Greek Cypriots voting to elect new president

January 28, 2018 4:13 am
Greek Cypriots cast their ballots in the presidential election at a voting station in Tseri, a southern suburb of the capital, Nicosia, on January 28, 2018. (Photo by AFP)
People in the Greek-majority Republic of are taking to the polls to cast their ballots in a presidential election, with incumbent Nicos Anastasiades leading his rivals in polls.
Polling stations opened at 7 a.m. local time (0500 GMT) and will close at 6 p.m. (1600 GMT) on Sunday, with approximately 551,000 people eligible to vote for the republic’s eighth president at over 1,100 polling stations.
Anastasiades is competing with eight candidates, hoping to resolve the island-nation’s ethnic division and maintain economic stability after a years-long, severe financial crisis.
The 71-year-old, who is leading in opinion polls, looks unlikely to win a first round outright and is expected to face a run-off on February 4 against either Stavros Malas or Nikolas Papadopoulos, a former president’s son who is taking a tougher line on peace efforts.
The eastern Mediterranean island has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded the northern third in response to an Athens-inspired coup seeking unification.
The winner of the Sunday vote will have to decide whether to restart peace talks aimed at resolving the nearly 44-year division of the island between the internationally recognized Greek-majority Republic of Cyprus and a Turkish Cypriot statelet in the north.
​Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades (L), UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres (C) and Turkish Cypriot Leader Mustafa Akinci (R) pose for a photograph during Cyprus peace talks in the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana, on June 30, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
Two years of UN-backed negotiations between Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci came closer than ever to reunifying the island but collapsed in July 2017 before a deal could be reached.
The conservative incumbent insists on resuming talks with Akinci as soon as possible despite the failure to bridge differences on key issues in the previous rounds, including the future of tens of thousands of Turkish troops in the north.
Offshore gas drilling has also been a more recent bone of contention between the sides, with the Turks pursuing their own oil and gas development plans, which the Greeks are against.
The final results of the ongoing presidential vote are due to be announced late on Sunday.
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