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Last Updated: Monday, 25 September 2006, 17:03 GMT 18:03 UK
Acrimony mars Cyprus church vote
Voting to elect a new church leader in Cyprus
The voting is a complex, multi-stage procedure
An election to choose a new leader for the influential Orthodox Church in Cyprus has been marred by claims of polling irregularities.

The acting head of the church, Bishop Chrysostomos, said he was saddened that some ballot boxes were empty, while others had been tampered with.

But he ruled out cancelling the election, which began on Sunday.

Up to 500,000 Greek Cypriots registered with the church are eligible to vote in the first phase of the election.

Election officials suspended counting twice on Monday after objections from bishops.

By November a replacement should be found for the current leader, Archbishop Chrysostomos, who has been ill for four years.

He replaced Archbishop Makarios, whose ousting in a Greek-inspired coup in 1974 triggered the Turkish invasion that has left the island divided.

Cypriots first vote for 1,400 special representatives, who in turn vote for 100 electors. It is then their job to select the new archbishop in a secret ballot.

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