The newly elected president of Cyprus promises to unite island

Other News Materials 24 February 2008 22:04 (UTC +04:00)
The newly elected president of   Cyprus promises to unite island

( dpa )- Communist party leader Dimitris Christofias was the winner of Sunday's Cyprus presidential runoff election, official results showed.

With 80 per cent of votes counted, official results showed Christofias gaining 53.63 per cent and his rival Ioannis Kasoulides 46.37 per cent.

The win makes Christofias the only communist leader in the 27- member European Union and the first to head Cyprus. Despite his party's Leninist roots he has assured business investors he will leave the market alone.

The election came as UN mediators attempted another peace plan intended to mend the divisions between Greek and Turkish Cypriots on opposite sides of a ceasefire line that has split the island for the past 35 years.

The north has been isolated since 1974 when Turkey invaded the northern third of the island, where Ankara maintains 30,000 troops.

The ongoing conflict has been a thorn in relations between NATO allies Greece and Turkey and has served as an obstacle to Turkey's efforts to join the EU.

Although hailing from different sides of the political spectrum, both candidates have pledged immediately to pursue peace talks with Turkish Cypriots on the ethnically-divided island.

Soviet-educated Christofias, 62, said he would also meet with Talat, but that the meeting would be arranged through the UN.

"I do not think Mr Kasoulides or myself has the magic formula to break the deadlock," Christofias said in a televised debate on Friday. "But I have the goodwill to move forward to try to find a settlement. It is an absolute necessity."