Cyprus votes in presidential polls

Monitoring Desk

NICOSIA: Voters in Cyprus cast ballots Sunday in a presidential run-off, with incumbent Nicos Anastasiades and his leftist challenger sparring over who is best placed to reunify the island and boost a fragile economic recovery.

In a first round on January 28, conservative Anastasiades garnered 35.5 percent of the ballots, while Communist-backed opponent Stavros Malas came second with 30 percent. Sunday’s head-to-head showdown is a rerun of the 2013 vote that saw Anastasiades cruise into office amid a financial meltdown in the Greek-majority European Union member. But, with last week’s losing candidates refusing to back either hopeful or apathy rising, it looks set to be closer -even though the former lawyer remains favourite to secure a second and final five-year term.

“I warmly appeal to every citizen, do not abandon the right to choose who will be the next president,” Anastasiades said as he voted in his home town Limassol. “To abstain is like letting someone else decide for you.” After making his choice on Sunday, Malas insisted “today is the day that young people decide on their future”, and pledged support for those still suffering from the economic crisis.

At a polling station in Nicosia the focus was firmly on reunification efforts and the economy. “I voted for Anastasiades as I think he is the perfect choice to run the country at this time,” petrol station owner George Souglis, 73, told AFP. “In the future he will continue to do a lot on the economy and Cyprus problem.”