Europe

Cyprus election: Nicos Anastasiades elected president

  • 25 February 2013
  • From the section Europe
Nicos Anastasiades waves to supporters in Nicosia. Photo: 24 February 2013
Mr Anastasiades said his top priority would be to restore Cyprus' credibility

Centre-right leader Nicos Anastasiades has won the Cypriot presidential election with 57.5% of the vote.

It was a comfortable victory over Communist-backed Stavros Malas on 42.5%. Mr Malas has admitted defeat.

Mr Anastasiades takes power as Cyprus stands on the brink of bankruptcy, hit by the knock-on effect of Greece's economic woes.

He favours a quick deal with foreign lenders to finalise a bailout of the Cypriot economy.

"My first priority is to reinstate Cyprus' credibility,'' Mr Anastasiades, 66, said in a victory speech in front of his jubilant supporters in the capital Nicosia.

"I'm determined to work together with our EU partners, and - at the same time - fulfil our responsibilities to the utmost. I am committed to making all the necessary measures to steer our country out of the economic crisis.''

Supporters of Mr Anastasiades's Democratic Rally party waved Cypriot and Greek flags and set off firecrackers across the island.

Cash-strapped

The Cypriot economy is in recession and the state has little money in its accounts.

Cyprus first asked the EU for a bailout last July to shore up its banks.

Because of the bailout deal for Greece, and the restructuring of its debts, which saw private bondholders suffer big losses, Cypriot banks lost about 75% of their investments.

However, the Cypriot bailout deal has foundered in protracted negotiations.

The new president will have to finalise a deal with the other 16 countries that use the euro and with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Mr Malas supported a bailout but opposed austerity. Last week's first round in the presidential election failed to produce a decisive result.

Mr Anastasiades will aim to exploit massive natural gas finds off Cyprus's coast, bringing in badly needed income and energy, but risking escalating tensions with Turkey, says the BBC's Mark Lowen in neighbouring Greece.

He will also be under pressure to reach out to Turkish Cypriots in the north of the island, our correspondent says. The Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities have been split since Turkey invaded the north in 1974, following a Greek-inspired coup.

Correction 25th February, 2013: We amended a phrase which said Cyprus was "formally divided along ethnic lines" in 1974, replacing it with a reference to the coup and invasion.

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