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Title: UBP Voted Into Government - (2009-04-27)
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UBP Triumphs At Election

ONGOING U.N. sponsored talks aimed at reunifying the island will not be disrupted by the National Unity Party (UBP), despite the right-wing party’s landslide election victory in the north on Sunday, Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat said yesterday.

“I expect the change of government to have a minimal impact on negotiations as I, as president, direct the talks,” Talat told reporters in the north after returning from talks in the UN buffer zone with Christofias.

He added: “[UBP leader, Dervis] Eroglu already said during the election period that his party will take this approach.”

Talat’s words were backed by Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan yesterday who said that his government “will not stand by any step that weakens Talat’s hand”.

The right-wing UBP swept to victory on Sunday with just over 44 per cent of the vote, a percentage that could give it 26 seats in the 50-seat ‘parliament’. Talat’s party, the ruling CTP, saw its share of the vote fall to little over 29 per cent. It will now only hold 15 seats, as opposed to the 25 it held before the election.

The UBP’s control over ‘parliament’ could, in theory at least, severely restrict Talat’s ability to steer negotiations the way he wishes. The north’s political structure insists that any agreement made with the Greek Cypriots would need ‘parliamentary’ ratification. Indeed, it was in this way that Talat sidelined former Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash before the Annan plan referendum in 2004.

But while Eroglu said on Sunday night that he would not oppose or seek to block talks, many supporters of reunification are worried that the UBP’s traditionally hardline stance may be out of step with what has already been agreed between Talat and Christofias.

A spokesman for the UBP told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that once settled into power, the UBP would take an active interest in the negotiations and that it planned to send a representative to all UN-sponsored meetings between the two sides.

“We are most definitely going to send a representative to the talks with Talat, and this is something that Talat has already accepted,” the spokesman said. He added however that this was not something that should overly concern Talat.

“Our view does not differ greatly from Talat’s or from Turkey’s, in that we want to see real bizonality and we want to see the virgin birth of a new entity rather than the continuation of the Cyprus Republic”.

Another factor on which the UBP, Talat and Turkey all agreed, said the spokesman, was that “Turkey’s guarantee rights are also nonnegotiable”.

Where Talat and the Turkish government actually stand on these issues has been fudged over in recent months, primarily to allow for the leaders to progress on to issues upon which they agree.

However, Talat said yesterday that what has actually been agreed so far could become clear on May 5 when a document is published outlining the current state of the negotiations.

Meanwhile, the UBP was meeting yesterday to decide whether it would form a ‘government’ alone or join one of the smaller opposition parties in a coalition.

“The party is still deciding whether to go it alone or form a coalition. There are good arguments on both sides, but 26 seats is not such a secure position,” the party spokesman told the Mail yesterday. He added that according to the north’s laws, it would take at least ten days before the UBP could take power.

“In ten days MPs will be sworn in, and then the president will ask Eroglu to form a government”.

 



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