NICOSIA, April 26 (Reuters) - A leftist moderate promising to push for a peace deal in ethnically-split Cyprus was leading the Turkish Cypriot presidential election runoff on Sunday, with more than 65 percent of votes counted.
Mustafa Akinci, standing as an independent, had 60.5 percent of the votes counted so far, according to figures provided by the election commission. His rival was incumbent president Dervis Eroglu, a conservative elected five years ago.
Akinci, 67, has said he would work with fresh urgency to find a peace deal on Cyprus, split in a 1974 Turkish invasion triggered by a brief Greek-inspired coup.
Peace talks were suspended last October, when Greek Cypriots walked out of the process in a row over Turkish rights to explore for natural gas off northern Cyprus.
Cyprus is represented internationally and in the European Union by the Greek Cypriot government that controls the southern portion of the island.
Speaking to Reuters on Saturday, Akinci said natural gas finds in the eastern Mediterranean represented a “new dynamic” that could benefit countries in the region, and that confidence-building measures were needed between the two sides.
“There is a possibility for all sides to win,” he said. (Reporting By Michele Kambas; Editing by Kevin Liffey)