Cypriot conservative chief declares victory in runoff vote

NICOSIA Sun Feb 24, 2013 12:15pm EST

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NICOSIA (Reuters) - Cypriot conservative leader Nicos Anastasiades declared victory in a presidential runoff vote on Sunday after taking an insurmountable lead against his leftist rival.

"It is a clear lead for Mr. Anastasiades," Tasos Mitsopoulos, Anastasiades's spokesman, told reporters.

"It is a clear and strong mandate for change, for reform, for our country to exit this vicious circle of crisis."

Anastasiades took a 57.5 percent share of the vote after 98 percent of the vote was counted, 15 points ahead of rival Stavros Malas, who is backed by the Communist party AKEL.

Anastasiades is in favor of a quick bailout deal with European Union and International Monetary Fund lenders to avert a looming Cypriot bankruptcy, while Malas has promised to drive a hard bargain on the austerity terms accompanying a rescue.

(Reporting by Michele Kambas, Writing by Deepa Babington)

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