Greek Cypriots to vote for new parliament

Over half a million Greek Cypriots are to elect a new parliament Sunday following a reunification-dominated campaign on this war-divided island.

The campaign officially ended at midnight Friday with parties issuing their last messages to the electorate.

In the first election since Greek Cypriots rejected  and Turkish Cypriots backed a U.N. peace plan in 2004, parties with opposing views on reunification are vying for most of the legislative assembly's 56 seats.

The election will also offer a Turkish-Cypriot woman an unprecedented chance to win a seat.

Cyprus is divided between a Greek-Cypriot south and Turkish occupied north since 1974, when Turkey invaded following an abortive coup by supporters of union with Greece.

The U.N. plan had envisaged the island being reunified as a federation of two politically equal states under a weak central government. One state would be for the 750,000 Greek Cypriots, the other for the estimated 180,000 Turks and Turkish Cypriots. The Greek Cypriots rejected it in a referendum, with their main objection being that the plan did not guarantee the return of their homes or property taken by the Turks.

More than 500,000 registered voters are expected to vote on Sunday, with 487 candidates from various parties taking part.

The two largest parties communist AKEL and right-wing DISY focused on alienated supporters disgruntled by their respective decisions during the 2004 referendum. AKEL rejected the plan while DISY backed it.

"The things that unite us are certainly much more than those that divide us," Nicos Anastasiades, the leader of DISY, told his party supporters.

AKEL party chief Demetris Christofias urged his party followers to continue the tradition of "honoring AKEL with their votes," reports AP.

O.Ch.