Cyprus heads for runoff vote, conservative chief leads

NICOSIA Sun Feb 17, 2013 12:51pm EST

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NICOSIA Feb 17 (Reuters) - Cyprus was headed for a runoff vote in its presidential election after conservative leader Nicos Anastasiades failed to muster an outright majority after the bulk of votes were counted.

The 66-year-old lawyer, who is in favour of a quick bailout deal with European Union and International Monetary Fund lenders to avert a Cypriot bankruptcy, led with 45.2 percent of the vote, just short of the over 50 percent level needed to avoid the run-off.

Leftist rival Stavros Malas, who is backed by the Communist party AKEL, had a 27.1 percent share of the vote, while a third contender, independent candidate George Lillikas, had a 25 percent share of the vote after 87 percent of the vote was counted.

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