Residents of northern Cyprus are voting for a leader to represent them in talks with Greek Cypriots in the south.
Opinion polls put incumbent Dervis Eroglu ahead of his main rival Sibel Sider and five other candidates. If he fails to secure a majority on Sunday, he’ll face a runoff on April 26.
Whoever wins will be tasked with negotiating the reunification of the island, which has been divided between north and south, Greeks and Turks, since 1974.
“It is important for the future of the Turkish Cypriots,” one man told euronews outside the polling station. “We are electing our leader who will run the negotiations. It is important because he or she will defend our rights at the table.”
Only Turkey recognizes the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, and Ankara provides a third of the region’s budget.
An UN backed peace plan was approved by Turkish Cypriots in 2004 but overwhelmingly rejected by Greek Cypriots.
euronews correspondent Bora Bayraktar was in Nicosia as the poll opened on Sunday morning. Although it has been a quiet election campaign compared to the past, he says, in these elections are competitive.
“The elections are especially important because the revival of peace negotiations on the island is on the agenda,” he said.