Polling station officers receive the ballot boxes for the second round of the 2023 Presidential Elections on Feb 10, 2023, at the Cyprus State Fair grounds in the capital Nicosia's suburb of Engomi. (PHOTO / AFP)
NICOSIA- A runoff election on Sunday to select the president of Cyprus pits two career diplomats against each other in what could be a cliffhanger vote that has split the political right.
Nikos Christodoulides, 49, is a former foreign minister while Andreas Mavroyiannis, 66, was chief negotiator in peace talks with Turkish Cypriots and a former permanent representative of Cyprus to the UN.
The two pulled ahead with Christodoulides holding a narrow lead in a first round of voting on Feb 5 which left Averof Neophytou, head of the ruling right-wing DISY party, in third place. read more
Cyprus's incumbent president, Nicos Anastasiades, is prevented from seeking a third term by law and has said he backs the party line
Both remaining candidates are professed independents, with Christodoulides backed by a smattering of centre and right-of-centre parties and Mavroyiannis by the left-wing AKEL. His candidacy was given a boost this week when DISY said its members should vote with their conscience.
ALSO READ: Cyprus presidential election goes to runoff
The DISY leadership were angered after Christodoulides, a former party member, broke ranks to run as an independent. read more
Leading DISY party members have since come out in support of each candidate.
Cyprus's incumbent president, Nicos Anastasiades, is prevented from seeking a third term by law and has said he backs the party line.
The country's next president faces a deadlock in reunification talks with Turkish Cypriots on the ethnically split island, labour disputes from runaway inflation, the fallout from corruption scandals and a spike in irregular migration.
READ MORE: Cyprus heads to polls to pick new president
Some 561,000 Greek Cypriots have the right to vote. Polling stations open at 0500 GMT and close at 1600 GMT. Authorities are expected to announce the winner by 1800 GMT.