Candidates tour as battle for UBP leadership begins
THE race for the leadership of the main opposition National Unity Party (UBP) is hotting up, with four candidates touring the country to woo party supporters in the run-up to voting in a fortnight.
Current leader Hüseyin Özgürgün is being challenged by former tourism and health minister Faiz Sucuoğlu, ex-finance minister Ersin Tatar, both fellow Lefkoşa MPs, and ex-economy minister and Gazimağusa deputy Sunat Atun.
The party’s assembly opens in the capital on Saturday, October 27, with the leadership election taking place the following day. Some 12,000 UBP members are eligible to vote, and will also choose 72 party assembly members.
In a message to mark the 43rd anniversary of the party’s foundation, on October 11, 1975, Mr Özgürgün said: “Our greatest strength is our unity . . . UBP is the party of the ‘hard days’ and we have always continued our service with love of people and country . . .
“Whether in government or opposition, the UBP is the TRNC’s most important party. We have been the party most in office. We laid the basis for the TRNC.”
He added: “The four-party coalition was formed ignoring the will of the public. The day of UBP returning to office is near.”
In his own anniversary statement, Dr Sucuoğlu said: “UBP is about freedom, security and prosperity. UBP exists for the people and works for the people . . . We hope a new phase will be opened in UBP and we will be able to address the existing problems of the TRNC.”
Appearing on BRT television, Mr Atun warned of “bigger dangers” if the 83 million TL budget deficit increased and criticised Prime Minister Tufan Erhürman for saying there was “no light at the end of the tunnel”, telling the government it needed “to have insight and see its way forward”.
“The government is forcing the public to be negative. When I was in government for seven years, we had economic problems, but we tackled this by offering incentives to investors. This government does not even have a road map.”
Mr Tatar met officials of the chambers of Commerce and Industry for their views on the economy and heard of problems in the property sector from members of the Estate Agents’ Union.
Speaking on television, he also touched on the Cyprus issue, saying the UN and EU should stop “victimising” Turkish Cypriots, by “prolonging the Cyprus issue without any conclusion”.
“Enough is enough . . . The Greek Cypriot side does not want a finite [peace] process, or have an objective of reaching a solution soon . . . We will not play their game,” he said.
Former tourism and health minister Faiz Sucuoğlu
Gazimağusa deputy Sunat Atun
Current UBP leader Hüseyin Özgürgün
Ex-finance minister Ersin Tatar