Cyprus heads for runoff vote, conservative chief leads

NICOSIA Sun Feb 17, 2013 12:56pm EST

Cyprus presidential candidate Nicos Anastasiades (C) of the right wing Democratic Rally party casts his ballot as his wife Andriana and his grandchildren look on at a polling station in Limassol February 17, 2013. REUTERS/Yorgos Karahalis

Cyprus presidential candidate Nicos Anastasiades (C) of the right wing Democratic Rally party casts his ballot as his wife Andriana and his grandchildren look on at a polling station in Limassol February 17, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Yorgos Karahalis

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NICOSIA (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 favor 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.

(Reporting by Michele Kambas, Writing by Deepa Babington)

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