Foul play feared in Cyprus vote

NICOSIA – A Turkish-Cypriot opposition leader yesterday asked judicial officials in the Turkish-occupied north of the island to act against alleged attempts to register ineligible voters for December’s polls, the result of which may have major repercussions on the future of long-divided Cyprus. Mustafa Akinci filed a complaint claiming Turkish-Cypriot officials were hastily granting Turkish-Cypriot citizenship to hundreds of settlers from Turkey. «Nobody has the right to cast doubts on the election,» said Akinci, head of the Peace and Democracy Movement, which ardently supports the resolution of Cyprus’s three-decade division and its accession to the European Union. Applicants have in recent days formed long lines at the naturalization office, triggering protests even by the agency’s own clerks. «Hundreds of people, even those with no jobs, are being made citizens through pressure from the Interior Ministry,» Ali Seylani, head of the union of Turkish Cypriot civil servants, told the Associated Press on Thursday. «The employees are under intense pressure… This is definitely directed at affecting the election results.» He said some 2,000 people were made citizens in the last three weeks. Most did not meet the requirements. The incumbent Turkish-Cypriot administration, which openly backs Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, has seen its popularity nosedive as Turkish Cypriots become increasingly desperate over their international isolation and deepening economic problems. Opposition forces last month struck a deal to cooperate before and after the polls in a bid to reach a reunification deal with the government in Nicosia and join the EU. They also vowed to oust Denktash from his post of chief negotiator in peace talks. (Combined reports)