NICOSIA, Feb. 5 (Xinhua) -- Former Cypriot foreign minister Nicos Christodoulides took the lead in Cyprus' presidential election on Sunday, and will face off with Andreas Mavroyiannis, who came second, in a runoff on Feb. 12.
Christodoulides, who ran as an independent, garnered 32.04 percent of the vote, and Mavroyiannis, who also ran as an independent and supported by the left wing AKEL party, garnered 29.61 percent of the vote, Chief Returning Officer Costas Constantinou announced after the counting of all votes on Sunday.
Fourteen candidates participated in the election, but none of them won an absolute majority.
Averof Neophytou, leader of the ruling DISY party, ended third with 26.11 percent of the vote and was thus left out of the presidential race, ending the party's ten-year-long hold on power in the eastern Mediterranean island.
Neophytou's performance in the election was considered by political analysts as a blow not only to himself but also to his right-wing party.
Both Christodoulides and Mavroyiannis had been close associates of the outgoing president Nicos Anastasiades who will step down at the end of February.
Christodoulides served for four years as spokesman for Anastasiades and then as his foreign minister for another four years.
Mavroyiannis, a diplomat at the foreign ministry, had been Anastasiades' negotiator in peace talks with Turkish Cypriots for a settlement to the Cyprus problem.
Political analysts said that the two presidential hopefuls would start wooing DISY voters for their support ahead of the runoff vote.
A DISY official said the party would meet on Monday to decide its official stance in relation to the runoff.
The Chief Returning Officer said that out of 561,273 registered voters 404,403 people, or 72.05 percent, cast ballot papers.