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Sunday, February 15, 1998 Published at 07:58 GMT

World: Europe

Clerides wins Cyprus presidential race
image: [ Glafcos Clerides in winning mood speaks to a crowd ]
Glafcos Clerides in winning mood speaks to a crowd

The Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides has won the second round of the presidential election in Cyprus.

His challenger, George Iacovou accepted defeat. The poll had taken place only in the southern, Greek part of the divided island. With most of the votes counted, Mr Clerides had just over 50% of the vote.

The final results of last Sunday's first round put the former foreign minister, George Iakovou, just 0.5% ahead of the incumbent, Glafcos Clerides.

Mr Iakovou won just under 41% in the first round, which had a 92% turnout.

Mr Clerides will have to handle a new United Nations initiative in March to resume reunification talks with the Turkish Cypriot north of the island.

[ image: Mr Lyssarides - kingmaker]
Mr Lyssarides - kingmaker
Vassos Lyssarides, the leader of the Socialist Party (EDEK), who secured just over 10% of the votes in the first round, has since played the role of kingmaker.

Before announcing who he would support, Mr Lyssarides secured assurances from both front-runners that they would form an ecumenical government.

Both Mr Clerides and Mr Iakovou signed Mr Lyssarides' co-operation terms, laid down in a manifesto calling for an all-party government and a specific policy on dealing with the island's 24-year division.

His blueprint for co-operation asks for the creation of a national council to deal with the Cyprus problem, closer ties with Greece, and a commitment to the island's European Union membership bid.

But after protracted discussions on Wednesday, the small but influential Socialist Party decided to remain neutral in Cyprus's presidential election, leaving the runoff vote wide open for the two candidates.

[ image: Old but wise?]
Old but wise?
Glafcos Clerides, 79, is right-wing and represents the Democratic Rally (DISY).

He says that his long experience of negotiations with Turkish Cyprus makes him the only candidate capable of reaching a settlement in the reunification talks due to resume next month.

Both candidates support the accession of Cyprus to the European Union.

They also say that they support a rapprochement with the Turkish Cypriot community and seek a settlement based on UN proposals.

But in addition they support deployment of Russian anti-aircraft missiles, which are expected to be delivered by the end of summer, as a defence against possible Turkish aggression.

[ image: Viewed as most hardline]
Viewed as most hardline
George Iakovou, 59, is the former Greek Cypriot foreign minister. He was supported by the Communist party, AKEL, and the Democratic party, DIKO.

Mr Iakovou stressed the age gap in his campaign.

He charged the Clerides administration with having inconsistent policies which have made a solution to the conflict more elusive than ever. Deadlock

The east Mediterranean island has been partitioned since Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third in 1974 after an abortive coup by Cypriot supporters of union with Greece.

A breakaway Turkish Cypriot state in the north is only recognised by Turkey, which it maintains 35,000 troops there. Turkish Cypriots are not participating in the vote.

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

The US presidential envoy, Richard Holbrooke, will lead an American initiative on settling the Cyprus problem. The United Nations and the European Union will also make fresh efforts.


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14 Feb 98 | Country profile
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