Turkish Cypriot government resigns in dispute over finance minister

The Turkish Cypriot government resigned on Wednesday after little more than a month in power after President Ersin Tatar blocked the dismissal of its finance minister.

Tatar accepted the government’s resignation after Prime Minister Faiz Sucuoğlu asked him to "either approve Finance Minister Sunat Atun's dismissal or accept the government's resignation", Yenidüzen newspaper said.

Sucuoğlu had attempted to sack Atun last week due to a disagreement over electricity price hikes. But the dismissal was blocked by the Turkish government, which then summoned Sucuoğlu, along with Atun and two other ministers, to Ankara, according to the Turkish Cypriot media.

Tatar said he had asked Sucuoğlu for time to hold consultations after he requested permission to dismiss Atun at around noon on Wednesday.

“He accepted it. But later in the afternoon, he paid a second visit and submitted the government’s resignation,” Tatar said in a statement.

On Thursday, Tatar said he would give Sucuoğlu the task of forming the new government.

The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) established a three-party coalition government, led by the National Unity Party (UBP) on Feb. 21, following a snap election in January, a year ahead of schedule. Former Prime Minister Ersan Saner resigned in October.

Tatar is known for his close ties to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded the north in response to a Greek Cypriot coup aiming to unite the island with Greece. Since then, the internationally recognised Republic of Cyprus has controlled the southern two-thirds of the island, and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, only recognised by Turkey, the northern third.

Tatar advocates fully aligning Turkish Cypriot policies with those of Turkey, such as pursuing a two-state solution as an alternative to the long-held federal model for the divided island.

 

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