Poll protest in north Cyprus

Shops and offices in occupied Nicosia shut for three hours yesterday as thousands of Turkish Cypriots demonstrated against the mass granting of citizenship to mainland Turks ahead of December’s polls in the Turkish-held north. Different sources placed participation at between 3,000-10,000 people. Opposition parties accuse Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash of bringing settlers to the island who share his distaste for a UN peace plan aiming to end the division of Cyprus ahead of its EU entry in May. «The blatant handing out of citizenship by Mr Denktash… for the sake of the elections is disgraceful,» union leader Mehmet Tosun said. «Yes, the government has speeded up the process of granting citizenship,» senior administration official Serdar Denktash – Rauf’s son – was quoted as saying yesterday by The Associated Press. «They are saying, ‘Let’s grant citizenship to these people so they vote for us.’» He said some 2,500 people had been made citizens since July, adding they had all been eligible. (Combined reports)