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Cyprus Votes for President as Financial Bailout Looms

Cypriots voted Sunday in a presidential runoff that favors conservative Nicos Anastasiades against his leftist rival, with both candidates having pledged to seek a bailout deal with international lenders to prevent the country's financial meltdown.

Opposition leader Anastasiades won 45 percent of the vote in the first round last week, about 18 percent more than Communist-backed Stavros Malas.

Anastasiades favors a quick deal with foreign creditors, while Malas is more wary of the harsh austerity measures that are usually imposed in exchange for a rescue loan.

Cyprus has been caught in a financial crisis aggravated by the situation in Greece.

The government is seeking international help because Cypriot banks suffered huge losses from Greece's sovereign debt restructuring. The island, which has been shut out of international financial markets since May 2011, needs about $22 billion in aid.



Cyprus has been split into an internationally recognized Greek-speaking south and a breakaway Turkish Cypriot north since 1974, when Turkey invaded after a coup by supporters of union with Greece.

Only the 545,000 eligible voters in the south can vote in the election, but many are expected to cast blank ballots or abstain in protest.

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