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Ousted Cyprus president refuses to endorse runoff candidates

Ousted Cyprus president refuses to endorse runoff candidates

Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos, who failed in his bid for re-election in weekend polls, on Tuesday refused to endorse either of his rivals in the upcoming runoff.
"Respectful of each person's free will, I do not wish to influence, either directly or indirectly, their decision in this election contest," Papadopoulos said.
Papadopoulos narrowly lost out in Sunday's presidential election to conservative former foreign minister Ioannis Kasoulides and Demetris Christofias, head of the nominally communist AKEL party.
Both Kasoulides, 69, and Christofias, 61, met Papadopoulos to seek support for next Sunday's runoff.
The election was billed as a referendum on Papadopoulos' tough approach to the divided island's reunification. Cyprus has been split since 1974 into a Turkish-occupied north and an internationally recognized Greek Cypriot south.
Urged by Papadopoulos, Greek Cypriot voters in a 2004 referendum rejected a United Nations settlement plan.
Both his presidential rivals have promised a more flexible approach and prompt negotiations with the Turkish Cypriot community on a deal that would bring the entire island into the Europe Union.
The 74-year-old Papadopoulos refused to speculate on the reasons for his surprise exit.
"(It was) the judgment and will of the people which is absolutely respected as it will be in the second round," he said.
Kasoulides edged Christofias by a mere 980 votes, garnering 33.51 percent over Christofias' 33.29 percent. About 516,000 voters, including 390 Turkish Cypriots living in the south, were registered to vote.
Both candidates are campaigning hard to attract the 31.79 percent of voters who backed Papadopoulos and his supporters from the center-right DIKO party which backed him at the last election.
DIKO has yet to decide whom to back, but Greek Cypriot media reported the party is seeking written assurances from both candidates not to revive the U.N. settlement plan.
The smaller socialist EDEK party has already pledged its support to Christofias.
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On the Net:
http://www.presidency.gov.cy