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Nicos Anastasiades Wins Cyprus Presidential Run-Off

Conservative candidate Nicos Anastasiades has won Cyprus' presidential runoff election by defeating his rival by a wide margin, according to the final results posted on the interior ministry's website late Sunday.

The final results indicated that Anastasiades, leader of the Democratic Rally (DISY) party, won almost 57.48 percent of the votes polled in Sunday's presidential run-off, while his leftist rival Stavros Malas managed to secure only 42.51 percent of the votes.

Anastasiades will now assume office on March 1. The 66-year-old conservative, who is a qualified lawyer, has been serving as a member of Cyprus' parliament since 1981.

Anastasiades had won the first round held on February 17 with 45.46 percent of the votes, but failed to cross the threshold of 50 percent needed to avoid the run-off. In comparison, Malas, who was backed by the left-wing Akel party, received only 26.91 percent of the votes. Notably, both rounds were dominated by issues related to the country's economic woes.

In June, Cyprus became the fifth Eurozone country to seek a bailout loan of EUR 17 billion ($22.7 billion) from its other Eurozone partners to shore up its banks struggling from exposure to debt-ridden Greece.

Negotiations on Cyprus' request for the bailout has been stalled due to differences between outgoing President Demetris Christofias of the communist Akel party and representatives of the EU, the ECB and the IMF on measures required to be implemented for addressing the country's debt.

In addition to the bailout negotiations, the new President also faces the challenge of resuming the U.N.-mediated talks aimed at reuniting Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities on the divided Mediterranean island nation.

Cyprus was divided into a Greek Cypriot South and a Turkish Cypriot North after Turkey invaded the island in 1974 to counter a coup plot aimed at uniting the island with Greece. The breakaway Turkish Cypriot North, which declared independence in 1983, is recognized only by Ankara, while the Greek Cypriot government in the South is recognized by the U.N. and EU.

Talks between Greek and Turkish Cypriots are currently deadlocked over some complex issues, including the settlement of property disputes, future governance of the island and security guarantees for the return of refugees.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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