Turk Cypriots want vote in south

NICOSIA (Reuters) – Turkish Cypriots in in the occupied north of Cyprus want to vote for the first time since 1963 in parliamentary elections in the Greek Cypriot-run south, which is now a member of the European Union. «We want the right to stand in elections and vote, as stated in the (Cyprus) constitution,» said Ali Erel, a businessman who headed the Turkish-Cypriot Chamber of Commerce for years. Turkish Cypriots have not voted in elections in the Republic of Cyprus since a constitutional crisis in 1963, when a power-sharing administration collapsed in ethnic bloodshed just three years after the island won independence from Britain. The republic, along with its voting mechanisms, continued to function with participation only from Greek Cypriots. Erel, who lives in the north, gave Cypriot Interior Minister Andreas Christou a petition yesterday, saying Turkish Cypriots should be allowed to vote and stand for election in the May 21 ballot in the south. «Our aim is to return Cyprus to its bicommunal nature,» said Erel. Under the original constitution 35 members of the unicameral House of Representatives were to be Greek Cypriots and 15 Turkish Cypriots. Since partition, Turkish Cypriots vote for an administration in the north, but it is a statelet recognized only by Ankara. A Turkish Cypriot living in the south recently won a ruling in the European Court of Human Rights that the Cypriot electoral system was discriminatory. Authorities have since modified the law to allow Turkish Cypriots living in the government-controlled areas to vote, but in the absence of a reunification deal they are unlikely to give the island’s ethnic Turkish community a collective right.