Voting has concluded in a presidential poll in the Republic of Cyprus, with no candidate expected to win outright. The poll comes as Cypriots continue to hope for a resolution of the country's ethnic divisions.
Voters in Cyprus went to the polls on Sunday to elect a president, with incumbent President Nicos Anastasiades tipped to win but without the outright majority needed to avoid a runoff on February 4.
A main election issue has been the continued division of Cyprus into the internationally recognized Greek-speaking Republic of Cyprus in the south, where Sunday's vote was taking place, and the breakaway Turkish-speaking north, which is recognized only by Ankara.
- Sunday's poll pits the conservative Anastasiades, 71, against eight other candidates, including Stavros Malas, backed by the communist AKEL party, and Nicholas Papadopolous, the leader of the center-right DIKO party and the son of late former President Tassos Papadopoulos.
- Opinion polls have given Anastasiades at least 35 percent of the vote, while Malas and Papadopoulos are predicted to receive 22 percent each.
- Anastasiades has said it will be his last five-year term if he is elected for a second time.
- Some 551,000 people are eligible to vote in Sunday's election, from a population of around 1,206,000.
Anastasiades has claimed to have made more progress in reunification talks with Turkish Cypriots than at any other time in more than four decades of negotiations and also takes credit for pulling the country out of a financial and banking crisis in 2013. His last term has also seen unemployment fall from 16 percent in 2013 to 10 percent by the end of 2017.
Both Malas, 50, and Papadopoulos, 44, however, have blamed the incumbent president for the failure of UN-backed peace talks in July. They also accuse him of not doing enough to assist a middle class that was severely affected by the financial crisis.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded after a coup on the island by supporters of a union with Greece. Only Ankara recognizes the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, and it maintains a military presence of 35,000 troops there.
The Greek-speaking south is internationally recognized and has been an EU member state since 2004.
Malas and Papadopoulos want to see an end to the division, while Anastasiades has said the country should remain as it is if the outcome that Cypriot Greeks want cannot be attained.
tj/rc (AP, dpa)