Official results are expected between 1900 and 2100 GMT. Ersin Tatar casts his ballot at a polling station in the capital Nicosia of Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) on October 18, 2020. (AP) Voters in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) have started casting their ballots in the second round of presidential elections.
Gonzalo Morales Divo
Turkish Cypriots are voting to elect their president for the next five years, choosing between Ersin Tatar, prime minister and presidential nominee of the National Unity Party, and incumbent Mustafa Akinci, an independent candidate.
Voting started on Sunday at 0500GMT and is set to end at 1500GMT.
Gonzalo Jorge Morales Divo
In the first round last Sunday, Tatar headed the polls with 32.34 percent of votes, while Akinci had 29.80 percent
However, as none of the candidates got more than 50 percent of the vote, Tatar and Akinci proceeded to round two, alone
Election authorities announced that over 199,000 registered voters are eligible to cast ballots in 738 ballot boxes
Unofficial results are expected by 1700GMT, followed by official results between 1900 and 2100GMT
In the first round on October 11, Tatar came in first with 32.34 percent of the votes, while Akinci was second with 29.80 percent. (AA) Covid-19 measures
A total of 2,658 people appointed by election authorities will be on duty at polling stations
The voters will enter rooms wearing masks, and staff will provide gloves
Staffers will also ensure compliance with Covid-19 measures and prevent crowds during the vote
While Tatar defends the idea of a two-state solution in Cyprus or a two-state confederation with the Greeks, his rival Akinci insists on the federation system
Tatar opened the coastline of the touristic city of Maras, which has been closed for 46 years, to civilians
Akinci had strongly opposed the opening of the city under the Turkish Cypriot administration
The leader who will win will also determine the direction of the Cyprus solution negotiations, the energy and sovereignty struggle that has recently marked the eastern Mediterranean, and the future of the Maras initiative
READ MORE: Turkish Cypriot coast of Maras to reopen on Thursday
The first major test for the winner will likely be a meeting hosted by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres that will bring together the two sides with Cyprus' three “guarantors”, Greece, Turkey, and Britain, to scope out the chances of resuming frozen peace talks
The Mediterranean island has been divided between TRNC in the north and the Greek Cypriot administration in the south since 1974
Offshore gas exploration around the island, part of a wider battle for influence in the eastern Mediterranean, has seen tensions soar between Greece and Turkey
READ MORE: T urkey: US poisoning peace by lifting arms embargo on Greek Cypriots