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Last Updated: Sunday, 21 May 2006, 23:14 GMT 00:14 UK
Cyprus ruling coalition wins poll
Ballot boxes distributed for Cyprus' election
It is the first parliamentary election since the reunification referendum
Cypriots have backed a ruling coalition in parliamentary polls, endorsing leaders who opposed efforts to re-unite the island with its Turkish north.

President Tassos Papadopoulos' Diko party won 18% of the vote - up 3% on its last showing - while his allies in the communist Akel party won 31%.

The main opposition Disy party came a close second with 30% of the vote.

The poll gave Greek Cypriots the first chance to pick MPs since a referendum on reunification was rejected in 2004.

The outcome is a clear signal of continuing Greek Cypriot support for the president's stance in rejecting the UN plan, the BBC's Tabitha Morgan in Nicosia says.

"The government, strengthened by the overall message of the election, will continue its work," Mr Papadopoulos said.

The pro-reunification leader of the right-of-centre Disy party, Nicos Anastasiades, said his party would continue pushing for reconciliation with the Turkish north.

For the first time in decades, some 270 of the ethnic Turks living in the Greek-held part of Cyprus were allowed to vote and contest the election.

The communist Akel opposed the UN plan to reunite Cyprus but according to the Associated Press news agency, hundreds of the party's supporters had gathered in the streets, chanting: "The Turks of Cyprus are not our enemies, they are our brothers."

Reunification focus

The reunification question dominates all aspects of political life on the island and this election campaign has been no exception, our correspondent says.

However, while there is a new parliament, the political landscape remains essentially unchanged, she says.

Diko's strong showing, she says, could boost the president's chances of re-election in two years' time.

Mr Papadopoulos' appeal lies in his tough stance on the Cyprus problem, our correspondent says.

A second term for him would effectively rule out any future hopes of a settlement along the lines proposed by the international community, she says.




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
See Greek Cypriots casting their votes



SEE ALSO:
Q&A: Cyprus elections
19 May 06 |  Europe
EU approves Turkish Cypriot aid
27 Feb 06 |  Europe
Country profile: Cyprus
16 May 06 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Cyprus
24 Jan 06 |  Country profiles


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