Main candidates in Cypriot presidential elections

Other News Materials 23 February 2008 12:09 (UTC +04:00)

(dpa) - Greek Cypriots will go to the polls in presidential runoff elections Sunday to select between two candidates.

Soviet-educated Dimitris Christofias, 62, has held various posts in the island's communist party, AKEL, which he now heads. He helped President Tassos Papadopoulos win the 2003 elections, after which AKEL became a senior partner in the incumbent's administration.

Relations took a negative turn in 2007 when Papadopoulos refused to back Christofias's bid for the presidency. Although Christofias was initially against a 2004 United Nations plan to reunite Cyprus, he said he had secretly disagreed with Papadopoulos's handling of the issue and would seek to negotiate with Turkish Cypriots if elected.

Chrisofias's party has been against Cyprus's adoption of the euro, saying it should have been delayed a year to better prepare Cypriots for the changeover. He was educated on a scholarship in the former Soviet Union, is fluent in Russian and holds a doctorate in history.

Ioannis Kasoulides, 59, a former foreign minister in Cyprus's right-wing 1993-2003 administration, helped negotiate Cyprus's admission to the European Union.

He was government spokesman under former president Glafcos Clerides and has been a member of the European Parliament since 2004.

Kasoulides has promised a more hands-on approach to dealing with the Cyprus problem. He is running as an independent candidate, but backed by the right-wing Democratic Party.

Kasoulides studied medicine in France and specialized in geriatrics in London.