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Sunday, February 8, 1998 Published at 23:55 GMT

World: Europe

Cyprus faces election re-run
image: [ 92% of Greek Cypriots voted in the elections ]
92% of Greek Cypriots voted in the elections

A second round of voting in the Cyprus presidential race will be held next weekend after a clear winner failed to emerge from Sunday's election, officials said.

Challenger George Iacovou had 41.1% of the vote with more than 90% of votes counted, narrowly ahead of incumbent Glafcos Clerides with 39.9%.

To win the election in the first round, a candidate must secure 51%. The run-off between the two candidates will be held next Sunday.

Five failed candidates hold key

Around 92% of the nearly 447,000 registered voters chose from a record seven candidates to chose a president for a new five-year term.

The BBC Cyprus correspondent says the other five contenders now hold the key, especially the veteran Socialist Party leader, Vassos Lyssarides, who trails in third place with 11% of the vote.

[ image: President Clerides - seeking support]
President Clerides - seeking support
Mr Lyssarides, 78, acknowledged the role he has next week. "I realise the heavy responsibility the people have thrust on our party by giving us this role to determine the next president. I will ponder deeply before deciding what to do next Sunday."

In a brief statement, Mr Clerides, also 78, who sought a second five-year term, suggested he would seek support from other parties.

"Tomorrow I will begin efforts to create a government of national unity," he said.

However, Mr Iacovou said Sunday's vote showed Mr Clerides' unpopularity.

"I am very satisfied with the vote which shows that 60% of the people rejected the Clerides administration," said Mr Iacovou, who was backed by the centrist Democratic Party and the leftist Reformist Party of the Working People.

[ image: George Iacovou - satisfied with result]
George Iacovou - satisfied with result
The east Mediterranean island has been partitioned since Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third in 1974 after an abortive coup by Greek Cypriot supporters of union with Greece.

A breakaway Turkish Cypriot state in the north is only recognised by Turkey, where it maintains 35,000 troops. Turkish Cypriots did not participate in the vote.

Like virtually every aspect of public life in Cyprus, the handling of the island's division dominated the campaign.

A new international push to break the protracted deadlock in reunification talks is expected to begin next month.

US presidential envoy Richard Holbrook, the architect of the Dayton peace accord that ended the war in Bosnia, will lead a new American initiative on settling the Cyprus problem, combined with fresh efforts by the United Nations and the European Union.


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