Cypriot diplomats face off in tough presidential election Reuters


© Reuters. Supporters of Cypriot presidential candidate Nikos Christodoulides are seen in front of a poster, at campaign headquarters on the eve of the presidential election, in Nicosia, Cyprus, February 11, 2023. REUTERS/Louiza Vradi


NICOSIA (Reuters) – Sunday’s run-off election to choose the president of Cyprus pitted two career diplomats against each other in what could be a landmark vote that has divided the political right.

Nikos Christodoulides, 49, is a former foreign minister, while Andreas Mavroyiannis, 66, was the chief negotiator in the peace talks with the Turkish Cypriots and a former permanent representative of Cyprus to the UN.

The two led with Christodoulides holding a narrow lead in the first round of voting on February 5, which left Averof Neophytou, head of the ruling right-wing DISY party, in third place.

Both remaining candidates are declared independent, with Christodoulides being supported by several center and center-right parties, and Mavroyiannis by the left-wing AKEL. His candidacy received a boost this week when DISY said its members should vote their conscience.

The DISY leadership was angered after Christodoulides, a former party member, interrupted the election and ran as an independent candidate.

Leading members of the DISY party have since endorsed every candidate.

Cyprus’ current president, Nicos Anastasiades, is barred by law from running for a third term and has said he supports the party line.

The country’s next president faces stalemate in reunification talks with Turkish Cypriots on the ethnically divided island, labor disputes over rampant inflation, the fallout from corruption scandals and a surge in irregular migration.

About 561,000 Greek Cypriots have the right to vote. Polling stations open at 05:00 GMT and close at 16:00 GMT. Authorities are expected to announce the winner by 18:00 GMT.

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