Breakaway Turkish Cypriots vote for new leader ahead of expected restart of Cyprus peace talks

Turkish Cypriots are electing a new leader for the breakaway north of Cyprus in an unpredictable contest as talks to reunify the ethnically split island are expected to resume next month.

Some 177,000 residents are eligible to vote Sunday for seven candidates, including hard-line incumbent Dervis Eroglu and main challengers Sibel Siber and Mustafa Akinci.

Turkish Cypriot official Mustafa Erulgen said polls have opened and voting is proceeding smoothly.

Results are expected Sunday night and trigger a likely runoff election next week, if no candidate receives enough votes to win outright on the first ballot.

The elections will decide who sits opposite Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades in talks to reunify the Mediterranean island, split in 1974 when Turkey invaded after a coup by supporters of union with Greece.