Communist wins Cyprus vote

Demetris Christofias, who backs reunification talks, emerges victor after run-off.

    The election was seen as vital for the reunification prospects of the Mediterraean island nation [AFP]

    Christofias is the European Union's only communist head of state, and Cyprus the only European country with a communist president besides ex-Soviet Moldova.

    The election pitted the two candidates against each other after the elimination of Tassos Papadopoulos, the outgoing president, in the first round on February 17.


    Reunification hopes


    Thousands of people cast their vote in an election seen as vital for the reunification prospects of Cyprus, which has been partitioned since the 1970s.

    Both candidates have said they would attempt to broker a deal with Turkish Cypriots to end the conflict keeping Cyprus divided.
     

    Christofias has sent a message of friendship
    to 'ordinary Turkish Cypriots' [AFP]

    Speaking at a victory rally on Sunday, Christofias: "We have a vision, we have a history of struggle and contact with the people in our efforts to reunify our country without foreign troops.

    "I offer a hand of friendship and co-operation to the Turkish Cypriots and their leadership. I urge them to work together with us for the common good of the people in a climate of peace."
     
    Mehmet Ali Talat, Turkish Cypriot leader and head of the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, called Christofias to congratulate him

    The two have reportedly agreed to meet.

    "We foresee a productive co-operation for the benefit of the two communities for a viable and just solution to the problem," Christofias said.

    Papadopoulos had led Greek Cypriots in voting down a UN reunification plan that was endorsed by Turkish Cypriots in 2004.

    Divided nations
     
    That policy resulted in a divided Cyprus joining the European Union. He was widely blamed for the outcome.
     
    Cyprus
     suffered an ethnic split and large-scale violence following its independence from Britain in 1960.

    Turkey invaded in 1974 following a Greek-inspired coup aimed at uniting it with Greece.
      
    A breakaway Turkish Cypriot state in north Cyprus is recognised only by Ankara, while the Greek Cypriot in south represents the whole island in the EU.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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