A few hours before the ballots open for the presidential elections of 17th February and all is set , Chief Returning Officer Andreas Assiotis has said. Speaking Friday during a press conference at the Press and Information Office in Nicosia, Assiotis expressed confidence that the election process will run smoothly and both the candidates and their supporters as well as all involved in the procedure will behave accordingly.

A total of 545,491 people will vote in Sunday’s elections, including 311 enclaves (Greek Cypriot who live in the northern Turkish occupied territories). 14,441 Cypriots will vote at the 40 polling stations that will operate abroad.

A total of 1,139 polling stations will operate for the upcoming elections. The final result will be announced at around 20.30 local time ( 18.30 GMT). If  no candidate secures 50% plus on Sunday, there will be a run off election on 24th of February.

Assiotis noted that Cyprus has a tradition of carrying out democratic and impervious elections. He said that the presidential campaign ends midnight and therefore as of tomorrow , it is forbidden by law for the candidates and the political parties to conduct any kind of campaign.He called on the candidates to abstain from any presidential gathering , adding that all their signs in the roads must be removed.

Assiotis also said that the use of technology ( emails, facebook, twitter, texts) is also forbidden , adding that he is in touch with the office of Attorney General in order to decide how they will deal with such incidents.

The Chief Returning Officer said that the current economic crisis has affected the budget for the presidential elections, underlining that there has been great effort by all to minimize their costs and to avoid using the whole amount of 8 million that the budget provides for.

Voters are allowed to vote using their voting booklet. Only the enclaved and the Cypriot citizens who reside abroad are allowed to vote using their ID card. Voting booklets can be replaced by Saturday at 13.00 (11.00GMT) at the District Administration Offices.

A total of 7,500 state employees and police officers will be employed on Sunday’s elections, including 1,900 unemployed graduates.

The polls open at 7.00 and close at 18.00. In past elections, closing time was an hour earlier. There will be an hour break between 12 and 13.00.

A total of 11 people will contest the elections, including the main three candidates, President of the main opposition right wing party Democratic Rally (DISY) Nikos Anastasiades, who is backed by centre right Democratic Party DIKO, Stavros Malas, who will run having secured the backing of the ruling left wing party AKEL, and the independent candidate, former foreign minister, Giorgos Lillikas, who is backed by the socialist party EDEK.

Also running are former Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism Praxoula Antoniadou Kyriacou, Geogrios Charalambous, Lakis Ioannou , Makaria Andri Stylianou, Andreas Efstratiou, Solon Gregoriou, Loukas Stavrou and Costas Kyriakou-Outopos.

Presidential elections are held every five year in Cyprus. In the last elections which took place in February 2008, Demetris Christofias received 53,37% of the votes while Ioannis Kasoulides who was backed mainly by the Democratic Rally received 46,63%. Incumbent President Christofias, who is backed by AKEL, has announced that he will not seek re-election.

Every citizen over the age of 18 has the right to vote. The election of the President is direct, by universal suffrage and secret ballot.

The President’s term in office is for a period of five years starting from the date of his investiture before the House of Representatives. Candidates for election must be citizens of the Republic of Cyprus and over 35 years of age.

 

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