Demetris Christofias of the Working People's Progressive Party (AKEL) has won the presidential election in Cyprus and has promised to work on re-uniting the divided island. He defeated rival right-winger, MEP Ioannis Kasoulides, in the second round of voting; Christofias won 53.36% of the vote to Kasoulides's 46.64%.
President-elect Christofias will assume the presidency from Tassos Papadopoulos, who was defeated in the first round, on February 28.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey sent troops into the north after a coup by Greek Cypriots designed to produce union with Greece. Christofias and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat have agreed to meet 'at the earliest possible date' to discuss the status of Cyprus. The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is recognised only by Turkey.
The island's partition along ethnic lines has long stood as an obstacle to Turkey's bid to join the EU, and remains a source of contention between NATO allies Turkey and Greece. Many sensitive issues remain unresolved, including the return of refugees, security and the constitution.
The president-elect has vowed to work with the party of the defeated Papadopoulos, the Democratic Coalition (DISY), which firmly rejected the last UN plan to solve the problem of reunifying Cyprus.
25 February 2008