Photo released by the Cypriot Press and Information Office (PIO) shows presidential candidate and leader of the Democratic Rally party Nicos Anastasiades casts his vote at a polling station in Limassol, Cyprus, Feb. 17, 2013. Cypriot voters went to the polls on Sunday to elect a new president. The polling stations opened at 0500 GMT. The first election results were expected shortly after polling stations closed at 1600 GMT. (Xinhua/PIO)
NICOSIA, Feb. 17 (Xinhua) -- Cypriot right-wing leader Nicos Anastasiades failed to muster an outright majority in Sunday's presidential election and will enter a runoff against leftist candidate Stavros Malas, final official results showed.
Anastasiades, the Democratic Rally party candidate, won 45.46 percent of the votes, followed by ruling left-wing AKEL party candidate Malas who gained 26.91 percent of the votes. Independent candidate George Lillikas took the third place with 24.93 percent of the votes.
The final results confounded exit polls which had shown Anastasiades clinching an outright win with just over 51 percent of the votes.
Abstention stood at just over 16 percent of the 545,491 registered voters, compared to 11 percent in the previous presidential elections, reflecting despondency by voters over the economic crisis Cyprus is going through.
According to Cyprus' constitution, if no candidate gets over 50 percent of the votes, the top two candidates will contest the presidency in the second round of elections.
The runoff between Anastasiades and Malas is due next Sunday.
Experts expect Anastasiades to be the winner in the runoff vote, giving him a strong mandate to deal with the eastern Mediterranean island's economic woes.
The new president, who will succeed outgoing left-wing president Demetris Christofias, will be faced with the task of negotiating a bail out deal to avert bankruptcy for the eastern Mediterranean island.
Anastasiades, a 66-year-old lawyer, is considered by many to be best suited for the task.
In his election campaign, he promised a quick agreement on the rescue package. In a statement after voting in his native city of Limassol, Anastasiades said the wager of the election was the survival of the country.
Closing a bailout deal has proved difficult as estimates for the amount needed for the recapitalization of the banks would render the sovereign debt unsustainable.
An audit firm commissioned by the troika - the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund - and Cypriot authorities have worked out an extreme case scenario of 10 billion euros (13.4 billion U.S. dollars) for bank recapitalization.
This fanned fears that Cyprus will not be able to repay its debt, providing grounds for hostile German politicians to voice opposition to a possible bailout.
Cyprus sought bailout last year after its banks suffered huge losses from Greece's sovereign debt write-down and it is estimated that the country will need a total of 17.5 billion euros.
The new president will also have to handle the long-lasting Cyprus problem, seeking a solution in negotiations with the Turkish Cypriots to reunite the eastern Mediterranean island.
The island state has been divided by a military buffer zone since 1974, when Turkish forces occupied the north after a Greek-led coup attempt.
NICOSIA, Feb. 17 (Xinhua) -- Cypriot conservative leader Nicos Anastasiades grabbed a strong lead in Sunday's presidential election, winning about a 45.3-percent share of the vote, initial official results showed.
With almost 95 percent of the votes counted, it is clear that Anastasiades will have to fight a runoff election next Sunday against leftist candidate Stavros Malas, who is supported by governing AKEL party of outgoing president Demetris Crhistofias. Full story
NICOSIA, Feb. 17 (Xinhua) -- A group of hackers known as Anonymous have threatened on Sunday to disrupt Cyprus' presidential election process by attacking the computer system of the Ministry of Interior.
They called on hackers worldwide to attack the system at 6 p.m. (4 p.m. GMT) when first election results are due. Full story