LEFT-WING Cypriot leader Demetris Christofias has won the presidential election, defeating rival right-winger Ioannis Kasoulides.
In a victory speech, he promised to work on re-uniting the divided island.
Mr Kasoulides congratulated him on his victory and offered to help find a solution to the division of Cyprus.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey sent troops into the north after a coup by Greek Cypriots designed to produce union with Greece.
The two men had emerged neck-and-neck from the first round of the election, which saw the defeat of President Tassos Papadopoulos.
Official figures showed Mr Christofias, who heads the communist AKEL party, won 53.36% of the vote to Mr Kasoulides’ 46.64% in Sunday’s second round.
AKEL supporters celebrated victory outside the party headquarters in Nicosia, chanting slogans and waving flags. Car horns could be heard across the city.
“Tomorrow is a new day and there will be many difficulties before us,” Mr Christofias, 61, told supporters. “We need to gather our strength to achieve the re-unification of our homeland.”
Earlier, while casting his vote, he said he was sending a message of friendship to Turkish Cypriots in the north of the island.
The ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’ is only recognised by Turkey. UN forces patrol a buffer zone across the island.
The new president is likely to find that any progress on re-unification will be slow and difficult, says the BBC’s Tabitha Morgan in Nicosia. Many sensitive issues remain unresolved including the return of refugees, security and the constitution.
Mr Christofias also made an alliance with the party of the defeated Mr Papadopoulos – the man who firmly rejected the last UN plan to solve the Cyprus problem.
In his concession speech, Mr Kasoulides offered his support to the new president.
“I assured him I would stand next to him in his efforts to find a solution to our national issue,” he said in an address to supporters.
Story from BBC NEWS