Cypriot President Demetris Christofias, the European Union’s only Communist head of state, said on Monday he would not seek re-election next year, citing lack of progress towards the island’s reunification. Elected in 2008, Christofias is lagging in opinion polls over a faltering economy and unpopular concessions in peace talks. The presidential election is due in February 2013. “Taking as a fact that the Cyprus problem has not been solved, and it does not appear that there can be definitive progress in the next few months … I will not seek re-election,” he said in a televised address.
Christofias, 66, represents the Greek Cypriot side in talks with estranged Turkish Cypriots to reunify the island, split asunder in 1974. He was elected on a platform of being more conciliatory in trying to broker a deal with Turkish Cypriots. But he has alienated his own allies by taking steps regarded as concessionary, at a time when the economy is struggling after heavy exposure of its banks to debt-crippled Greece.