Turkish Cypriots elect new president

April 17, 2005 at 5:34 PM

NICOSIA, Cyprus, April 17 (UPI) -- The Turkish community in Cyprus elected a new president on Sunday.

The elected president, Mehmet Ali Talat, is the prime minister of the present government of Turkish enclave of northern Cyprus.

Talat won more than 55 percent of the vote, while his nearest rival won just under 23 percent. Nine candidates were running.

Talat replaces 81-year-old Rauf Denktash, who has led the self-declared Turkish Cypriot state for decades.

Soon after the election, Talat called for resumption of the reunification talks with Greek Cypriots. Cyprus has been divided between Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities since 1974.

Turkish Cypriots voted last year in favor of a U.N. reunification plan, but Greek Cypriots rejected it.

The United States has welcomed Sunday's elections as "free, fair and democratic" and has pledged to help the two communities reunite under the U.N. plan.

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