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Major Political Institutions in the "TRNC"

The institutional framework for the "TRNC" was set out in the 1985 constitution, drafted by the Constitutional Commission and approved by the Constituent Assembly in March 1985 and by a national referendum in May 1985. The constitution was approved by 70.2 percent of the votes cast; opposition to it centered on its retention of capital punishment and certain other provisions deemed too politically restrictive.

Although based on the 1975 document that established the "Turkish Federated State of Cyprus," the new constitution provided for an unfettered independent republic. It made no reference to a federal republic, but Turkish Cypriot authorities consistently pointed to a March 1985 Constituent Assembly vote declaring that the new constitution will not hinder establishment of a federal republic.

The constitution establishes a secular republic based on principles of democracy, social justice, and the supremacy of law. The balance of powers among the governmental branches is flexible, not fixed; the president and the Legislative Assembly both participate in the Council of Judicature, which names, promotes, and oversees the judicial branch. The president and the legislature also share the power to declare war and commit armed forces overseas.

The president, elected for five years, is required to be of Cypriot parentage and have resided in Cyprus for five years. He is the head of state and commander in chief, although the security forces are the responsibility of the prime minister. The president could preside over meetings of the cabinet, the Council of Ministers, but did not have a vote. He also named the prime minister from those elected to parliament, and appointed, in consultation with the prime minister, other ministers, who need not be elected members. The number of ministries was limited by the constitution to ten. In the event of a vacancy in the office of the president, the president of the Legislative Assembly would become acting president.

The Legislative Assembly is a unicameral body of fifty members elected for five-year terms. It enacts laws, exercises control over the Council of Ministers, approves the budget, has authority to give general and special amnesty, decides whether to carry out death penalties imposed by the courts, and ratifies international agreements. Upon an absolute majority vote, the Legislative Assembly could dissolve itself and call for new elections. Under certain circumstances, the president could also dissolve the body.

The judicial system established by the 1985 constitution rough by corresponds in several features to the provisions of the 1960 constitution of the Republic of Cyprus. The Supreme Court consists of a president and seven judges, and has jurisdiction to sit as the Supreme Constitutional Court, the Court of Appeal, and the High Administrative Court. As the Constitutional Court it is composed of five justices, and as a Court of Appeal, three. The "TRNC," drawing on the 1960 constitution and on the Turkish and United States systems, provides for challenges to the constitutionality of legislation. The Supreme Court, in its role as High Administrative Court, fulfills the same functions as described in article 146 of the 1960 constitution. The Supreme Council of Judicature, consisting of the Supreme Court, the attorney general, and several other officials, is the exclusive authority for appointments, promotions, disciplinary control, and all other matters relating to the judges of the courts.

There are three categories of lower courts. Assize courts, in the capitals of the three districts of the "TRNC," sit three times a year to try persons convicted of indictable offenses. These courts have unlimited jurisdiction in criminal matters. District courts, also located in the district capitals, have jurisdiction in civil and criminal matters. Family courts, each composed of a single judge, hear and determine actions relating to personal status and religious matters.

For administrative purposes the "TRNC" is divided into three districts, Nicosia (Lefkosa), Famagusta (Gazimagusa), and Kyrenia (Girne), each headed by a district officer (kaymakam), the representative of the central government and subordinate to the minister of the interior. There are twenty-six municipalities, consisting of towns and large villages, each governed by a municipal council and its head, the mayor. Council members and the mayor won their posts in municipal elections, usually held every four years. Candidates in these elections could run as independents or be affiliated with a party. Villages, of which there were about 150, were each governed by a village commission consisting of a mayor (muhtar) and assistants (aza; pl., azalar), also elected for four-year terms. Municipalities usually dealt with the relevant ministry when approaching the national government. Villages usually contacted the district kaymakam when they wished the services of the central government.

Data as of January 1991

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