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Candidates submit their bids for presidential elections
2003-01-17 09:56:39

Nicosia, Jan 17 (CNA) -- Ten hopefuls have entered the presidential race in Cyprus, officially signaling the start of the election campaign.

The elections will take place on Sunday, 16 February 2003. If necessary there will be a second round the following Sunday, 23 February 2003.

Eight of the candidatures submitted are independent. Among them is incumbent President Glafcos Clerides, who is seeking a third term in office.

The other two candidatures come from political parties. They are Tassos Papadopoulos, leader of the centre-right Democratic Party (DIKO), who is also supported by the leftwing AKEL party, the largest in the Parliament, and the Social Democrats Movement (KISOS) and Nicos Koutsou, supported by the New Horizons, the party that he heads.

First to sumbit his candidature was Andreas Efstratiou, businessman, from Paphos who was proposed by Chrysostomos Georgiou.

Referring to his independent candidacy, he said he is pursuing "the right of the people and of the large family which always remains on the sidelines".

Efstratiou said he would fight for justice, reunification of Cyprus and a solution to the Cyprus problem where for 28 years now "our human rights are being violated. We want to live together Turkish Cypriots, Maronites, Armenians, Greek Cypriots, for an independent island, as it was handed to us by our heroes".

The independent candidacy of lawyer Christos Iosifides, who followed, was proposed by Constantinos Ierodiakonou from Athienou village.

In statements, he called on the media to carry out their duties so that all candidacies, "either the realistic ones or the non-realistic ones, to be promoted equally, and according to the law".

Attorney-General Alecos Markides, close aide to incumbent President Clerides, was the third to submit his candidature. He said he was "optimistic" he would be one of the two runners up to compete in the second week of the presidential elections.

He said his candidacy, which was proposed by Vice-Rector of the University of Cyprus, Christos Schizas, "was submitted before the people of Cyprus, independent of party and ideological view".

He said he is offering a "continuation of the right policy on Cyprus, the right preparation of the economy in view of the great European challenge, a firm administration on all great internal issues."

Democratic Party President, Tassos Papadopoulos, was proposed by AKEL General Secretary Demetris Christofias.

He said "the candidacy of the forces of change is officially before the people" and conveyed a message of "unity, change and progress" to the whole people of Cyprus.

Papadopoulos said "we are committed to peace, a solution and hope we will triumph. Our vision is common and anticipates its implementation", he added.

Composer Adamos Katsantonis described his independent candidacy as "a vision of culture".

Proposed by Evangelos Karafotias, Katsantonis said that in the "Cypriot reality of corruption, the collapse of moral values... and with political integrity being at its lowest, culture is a bright and hopeful proposal for our society, and it helps efforts to solve the Cyprus problem".

Civil engineer, Pantelis Sofocleous, proposed by his father Andreas Sofocleous submitted his independent candidacy, with an "aim to rid of the establishment" and to enable the representation of a society of citizens and the implementation of viable development.

He said his programme was published in Turkish too, "in an effort to convey a message of character, pre-election thought and morals".

Incumbent President Clerides said he had submitted his candidature "for a limited period" explaining that the reason he did this was not because he wants to remain in power "but because I believe that the year 2003 will be a historic year with regard both to the finalisation of the accession of Cyprus to the EU and of finding a solution to the Cyprus problem. I believe it was my duty to offer my services to my country", he said.

His candidacy was proposed by former Mayor of Nicosia, Lellos Demetriades.

Asked if he has any information UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan will visit Cyprus before the end of the SG's timeframe for a solution to the Cyprus problem, Clerides replied he has no "official information", adding he would ask later today Annan's Special Adviser on Cyprus, Alvaro De Soto about it.

Clerides is scheduled to meet this afternoon Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, in the presence of Alvaro de Soto, in the framework of the UN-led talks aiming at reaching a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem.

President Clerides' candidature was followed by that of George Mavroyenis, who was proposed by Dina Mavroyeni. He said he submitted his bid "to safeguard the Constitution, and the state of the Republic of Cyprus".

Mavroyenis said it has been ten years since he last submitted candidacy for presidential elections, adding the climate now was "more civilised".

New Horizons President Nicos Koutsou said by submitting his candidacy, he is pursuing to secure a higher percentage of the votes, to anable his party "to control authority".

"We are pursuing a strong percentage in the first round to become a political force with prospect," he added.

Koutsou, whose candidacy was proposed by deputy Christos Clerides, said "we are sending a message to all Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots that the proces which began in Copenhagen and which will continue in April and finalised in May 2004, should find the Republic of Cyprus united, with Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots together".

Farmer and writer Costas Kyriakou was the final Cypriot citizen to submit his candidacy.

He was proposed by Marios Alexandrou, while none of the supporters of his candidacy accompanied him. He only presented their election booklets.

He said his aim is to "build new towns, with order, shape and a complete plan even before the foundation stone is laid''. |

Cyprus, which has been invited by the December 2002 Copenhagen EU Council along with other nine countries to join the EU, has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 percent of the island's territory.

CNA/EC/MK/GP/2003
ENDS, CYPRUS NEWS AGENCY

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