Simos Ioannou was elected on Sunday Mayor of the Turkish-occupied Municipality of Famagusta, securing 48.94% of the vote or 4,697 votes. Ioannou succeeds Alexis Galanos, who passed away last month.
According to the final results announced by Returning Officer Georgios Chrysafinis, Nikos Karoullas secured 26.23% or 2,518 votes, Andreas Lordos 16.24% or 1,559 votes, Linos Papayiannis received 6.22% or 597 votes and Georgios Stavri 2.37% or 227 votes.
Voter turnout was 30.73%, with 9,707 people voting out of a total of 31,584 registered voters, while 69.27% chose to abstain. Moreover, 98.88% of the ballots were valid.
In his statements Ioannou thanked voters for supporting his candidacy and for taking part in the elections. “Voter turnout was not as expected but there are certain special conditions, such as the summer recess and the heatwave” he said, adding that Famagusta Municipal Council will take action for Famagusta citizens to come closer to their municipal authorities.
He thanked AKEL, Democratic Party, Citizens’ Alliance and DEPA for supporting his independent candidacy, as well as voters from other parties who decided to support him in these elections.
Ioannou said that together with other candidates they waged a civilized debate and will work with all who love Famagusta.
Asked about the percentage he received, Ioannou said that the unity of Famagustans comes first. “My course during the last 26 years in the Municipality of Famagusta seems to have persuaded voters that I am able to represent them” he said and expressed hope that he will meet the expectations of all people.
“We need to fight hard in order for Famagustans to be able to return to the city and avert the faits accomplis in relation to Famagusta” he said, adding that this requires unity.
The day after the elections signals the beginning of a dynamic struggle, he said and noted that they will continue on the path of Alexis Galanos and that of his predecessors.
Ioannou will be proclaimed officially mayor on Monday, during a ceremony in the Cultural Center of Occupied Famagusta, in Deryneia.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. Repeated rounds of UN-led peace talks have so far failed to yield results. The latest round of negotiations, in July 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana ended inconclusively.
Varosha is the fenced off section of the Turkish occupied town of Famagusta, often described as ‘ghost town’. UN Security Council resolution 550 (1984) considers any attempts to settle any part of Varosha by people other than its inhabitants as inadmissible and calls for the transfer of this area to the administration of the UN.
Efforts over the years for the legitimate citizens of Famagusta to return to the city have met with the refusal of the Turkish side, despite numerous decisions and resolutions by the UN, EU and other international institutions.