Cyprus elects president tasked with sealing bailout

By REUTERS
February 17, 2013 01:41

 
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NICOSIA - Cypriots vote on Sunday to elect a president tasked with negotiating a financial rescue to save the small island nation from a bankruptcy that would reignite the euro zone debt crisis.

Cyprus's worst economic crisis in four decades has blown away the island's divided status as the main issue in this year's elections, which conservative leader Nicos Anastasiades is tipped to win.

Polls show Anastasiades, the most pro-bailout figure among the main presidential contenders, has a 15-point lead over his closest leftist rival, Stavros Malas, but may not secure the outright majority needed to avoid a run-off a week later.

He has promised a quick agreement with the European Union and International Monetary Fund on a bailout, a deal investors want thrashed out before the island's troubles derail progress made in shoring up the rest of the euro zone's periphery.

Nailing down a deal has proved tricky because almost any way of solving the crisis - from restructuring debt to slapping losses on banks - could set a precedent for other troubled states and hurt fragile confidence in financial markets.

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