Former Cyprus top diplomat Christodoulides elected youngest president

Cyprus’ new president-elect Nikos Christodoulides gestures to supporters during a proclamation ceremony at Eleftheria stadium in the capital Nicosia late on February 12, 2023. (Photo by Iakovos Hatzistavrou / AFP)

Former foreign minister Nikos Christodoulides was elected on Sunday as president of the Republic of Cyprus, becoming at 49 the youngest leader of the divided Mediterranean island nation.

The seasoned politician gained 51.92 percent of the vote in a run-off Sunday, closely beating out communist-backed career diplomat Andreas Mavroyiannis who took 48.08 percent of ballots.

Widely tapped as a favorite even before last Sunday’s first round of voting, he is seen as an independent backed by centrist parties that take a hard line on moribund UN-backed talks on ending the island’s decades-old division.

His candidature sparked a schism within the conservative ruling DISY party, whose candidate Averof Neofytou was booted out of the race after coming in third place in the first round—a first in the party’s history.

It is the first time a president has been elected without the support of the two largest parties, DISY and the communist AKEL, and after his victory was announced, Christodoulides said he wanted to meet with the leaders of both.

“The need to form a government of broad social acceptance was not a pre-election slogan, it was something that we will implement in practice”, Christodoulides said.

He will take up his post on March 1.

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