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Cyprus President Anastasiades Beats Leftist Challenger, Wins Another 5-Year Term

President of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades waves to his supporters after casting his ballot at a polling station in the coastal city of Limassol on Sunday during the second round of the Cyprus presidential elections.
President of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades waves to his supporters after casting his ballot at a polling station in the coastal city of Limassol on Sunday during the second round of the Cyprus presidential elections.

Incumbent Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades defeated leftist challenger Stavros Malas and won another five-year term in a run-off election on Sunday.

The 71-year-old conservative won 55.9 percent of the vote with 95 percent of votes counted. Malas conceded an hour after the polls closed, Reuters reported. Malas, a 50-year-old geneticist who served as the republic's health minister in the former left-wing administration, had also come ran against Anastasiades in 2013.

But the suspense was tight. The office of the president of Cyprus is elected using a two-round voting system, and a first round saw Anastasiades win an inconclusive 34 percent of the vote and Malas win an unexpected 29 percent percent of the vote.

With all second round votes counted, Anastasiades won 56 percent of the vote against Malas' 44 percent.

The island in the Mediterranean has been divided since 1974, when "Turkish troops invaded following a Greek-backed coup," as NPR's Michele Kelemen has reported. The Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot communities are separated by a U.N. buffer zone, and "many attempts to reunite the island have failed."

The vote took place barely seven months after the latest round of peace talks ended abruptly.

Anastasiades steered the Cyprus' economy to recovery after a 2013 financial crisis, and has pledged to seek the resumption of U.N.-mediated peace talks.

"A new era begins tomorrow," Anastasiades told supporters outside of his election campaign headquarters, reported Al Jazeera. "People demand cooperation and unity because this is the only way to solve the problems we're facing."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.