The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is a democratic, secular republic based on the principles of social justice and the rule of law. The Constitution provides for a semi-presidential system with a president as the head of state, and a council of ministers composed of prime minister and 10 ministers. Legislative power is vested in the Legislative Assembly, composed of 50 deputies elected by universal suffrage for a period of five years. Judicial power is exercised through independent courts.
The Constitution of the TRNC was prepared by the Constituent Assembly set up after the declaration of independence on 15 November 1983 and approved by the Turkish Cypriot electorate on 5 May 1985 with a majority of 70.16 percent. The TRNC Constitution is similar to the 1975 Constitution of the Turkish Federated State of Cyprus but it has a number of new provisions regulating the needs of the new Republic. It has 164 articles and 13 transitional articles.
The Constitution envisages a parliamentary democracy. Sovereignty is vested in the people comprising the citizens of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and is exercised by authorized organs in the name of the people. No organ or authority can exercise any State authority which does not emanate from the Constitution. Article 7 provides for the supremacy of the Constitution.
The Constitution contains elaborate provisions guaranteeing basic rights and liberties. Examples of these rights are: the right to equality, the right to life and corporal integrity, the right to liberty and security of a person, the right of access to the court and the right to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time by independent and impartial courts, and rights of convicted persons. Other articles contain a number of economic and social rights. Torture is prohibited. The right to privacy of life, inviolability of the dwelling house, confidentiality of correspondence, the right to free movement and residence, freedom of science and art, freedom of the press, and freedoms of assembly and association are also secured by provisions which reflect the democratic characteristics of the State.
In comparison with the 1975 Constitution, the 1985 Constitution contains more detailed provisions to protect fundamental human rights and freedoms. For instance, capital punishment for premediated murder, provided for under the Criminal Code, is abolished by transitional Article 13. Article 15 declared that capital punishment can be imposed only by law in cases of treason during wartime, acts of terrorism and piracy jure gentium, and for repeated murders. Even in these instances no execution of capital punishment can be carried out unless the Legislative Assembly decides so under the provisions of Article 78.
New economic and social rights have also been formulated, such as the right to protection from hunger, protection of the unemployed and needy, protection of the consumer, and the development of sports. There are elaborate provisions as to citizenship which also preserve acquired rights.
Restrictions and limitations which may be imposed by law on the exercise of these rights and liberties are set out specifically in each article. Such restrictions can, generally speaking, be imposed by law for purposes of national security, protection of the rights of others, and for the maintenance of democratic institutions.
For the efficient administration of North Cyprus the Republic is divided into three districts: Nicosia, Famagusta, and Kyrenia. The capital and seat of government is Nicosia, North.
There are a total of 186 villages numerically divided as follows:
Gazi Magosa 85,
Each district is governed by a District Officer (Kaymakam) who is essentially the local representative of the Central Government. The District Officer is the corollary of the Prefect in France and the Commissioner in other countries. The District Officer acts as the state liaison and chief coordinator of the activities of all Ministers in his District, thus establishing a two-way information. The District Officers reports are answerable to the Ministry of the Interior.
In each District there are, in addition to the District Officers, Assistant District Officers and an adequate number of staff personnel.
Each village has a Village Commission consisting of five members, the Mukhtar as chairman and four Azas, all elected by the public for a period of four years. The chairman of the Village Commission is the head of the village. It is the duty of the chairman of the Village Commission to report to the District Officer any matter of public interest concerning his village. In addition he supervises the work of the Rural Constable, certifies documents requiring his signature, registers births and deaths, and performs the duties assigned to him by the District Officer.
The general local administrative structure in North Cyprus operates at two levels: through Municipal Councils and Village Commissions. These are independent bodies responsible for the management of their local affairs and there is no hierarchical relationship between them. Municipal Councils constitute the form of local government in the district towns and in a number of large villages, while Village Commissions constitute the local structures in all remaining villages.
Mayors, Mukhtars, members of the Municipal Councils and Village Commissions are elected by universal suffrage. Thus, central government involvement is limited to extending technical and administrative support and supervision.
Council Of Ministers
The constitution provides that the Council of Ministers shall be composed of a Prime Minister and ministers. The Prime Minister is appointed by the President from amongst deputies. Ministers may be appointed from among persons who are not deputies. Ministers are appointed by the President upon the recommendation of the Prime Minister.
Ministries are established by decree, in accordance with the principles laid down by the Constitution, upon the recommendation of the Prime Minister and approval of the President. The number of ministries cannot exceed ten.
The Prime Minister must secure co-ordination between the ministers, formulate the general policy of the Council of Ministers, and seek observance of the relevant laws. The Prime Minister presides over the meetings of the Council of Ministers. The President may also preside over meetings of the Council, but he cannot vote at such meetings.
House of Parliament
The Constitution states that the sovereignty rests in the people comprising the citizens of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, without condition or reservation. The Assembly of the Republic is the place where the people, through their elected representatives, exercise this sovereignty and is the symbol of the independence and freedom of the Turkish Cypriot People.
The legislative powers of the State are exercised by the Legislative Assembly composed of fifty deputies elected for a period of five years. The Assembly has the power to enact laws, to exercise control over the Council of Ministers and the Ministers, to debate and approve bills in connection with the budget, to give general and special amnesty, and to decide whether death penalties imposed by the courts should be carried out. It also has the power to ratify international agreements.
The Assembly may, but only by absolute majority of the total number of its members, decide on its dissolution and the holding of general elections. In case of governmental crisis, the President is empowered to dissolve the Assembly and hold new elections if and when it becomes impossible to appoint a Council of Ministers, having the support of the Assembly, within a period of sixty days. If within a period of one year the council of Ministers cannot obtain a vote of confidence or is defeated three times by a motion of no-confidence the President may dissolve the Assembly and decide to hold elections. The President may, after certain consultations, submit to a referendum issue of dissolving the Assembly.
Declaration of war and authorization to send armed forces to foreign countries, or to allow foreign armed forces to be stationed in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, are rights vested in the Assembly, but if the country is the victim of sudden armed aggression and is not possible for the Assembly to convene, the President of the Republic is also able to decide on the use of the armed forces.