Saturday, 20 June 2015

Mehmet Ali Talat returns as CTP leader

Mehmet Ali Talat addresses the CTP congress. Photo: Kanal B

On Sunday, North Cyprus’ largest political party voted in a new leader and a new national executive committee. Mehmet Ali Talat returns as head of the Republican Turkish Party (CTP), which he formerly led between 1996 and 2005, while Turfan Erhürman is the party’s new General Secretary.

835 members took part in the party congress on Sunday 14 June. Erhürman was unopposed and returned unanimously. The TRNC’s Prime Minister and party leader Özkan Yorgancıoğlu decided not to enter the CTP leadership race, leaving Talat to stand against Yaşar Oduncuoğlu. Talat won convincingly, polling 727 votes to Oduncuoğlu’s 93, with 15 spoiled papers.

117 people stood for the 40-person National Executive. Among those selected was Mehmetçik (Galatya) town council leader Cemil Sarıçizmeli, trade unionist Ahmet Barçın, and CTP MP Fazilet Özdenife. A host of CTP youth leaders were also elected, including Ongun Talat and Ürün Solyalı,

TRNC PM Özkan Yorgancıoğlu replaced as CTP leader by Talat
The congress was watched by Prime Minister Yorgancıoğlu, who remained at the back of the room during proceedings. After his re-selection as party leader Talat said he had asked the TRNC Prime Minister not to resign, but to work together with him to help reform the party.

In recent years, CTP has experienced several acrimonious splits among party members, with many openly criticising Yorgancıoğlu for ‘poor leadership’. In 2014, Yorgancıoğlu had presided over CTP’s decision to select Dr Sibel Siber as its Presidential candidate over former TRNC President Talat. Siber was knocked out in the first round of the 2015 Presidential elections, which was won in the run-off by another left-wing candidate, TDP’s Mustafa Akıncı.

Speaking after the elections, Talat outlined his near-term aims: “We have a lot of work to do. We need to renew CTP so that it can gain its rightful place in this (North Cyprus) society and become this society’s most important political party, we are aiming for a rejuvenated and more progressive [party], this is the path we will take.”

He added that among his primary priorities is creating a just society, which in turn should help restore confidence among Turkish Cypriots in their political system and politicians. He also wants North Cyprus to have a strong and sustainable economy, and also to prepare Turkish Cypriots for a comprehensive solution to the Cyprus problem. To achieve this ambitious programme, Talat said his party had to “erase its internal divisions”.

Mehmet Ali Talat served TRNC President from 2005-2010. Prior to that, as TRNC Prime Minister he had led the Turkish Cypriot people to vote ‘yes’ in the historic 2004 referendum on the internationally-backed Annan Plan, which aimed to unite Cyprus. Due to the Greek Cypriot ‘no’ vote, the island remains divided. New UN-supported talks are now under way between the two sides.

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