Nikos Christodoulides was elected as the next President of Cyprus

Nikos Christodoulides

NICOSIA, Cyprus — Former foreign minister Nikos Christodoulides was on Sunday elected president of the Republic of Cyprus, becoming at 49 the youngest leader of the divided Mediterranean island nation.

The seasoned politician gained 51.92 per cent of the vote in a run-off Sunday, closely beating out communist-backed career diplomat Andreas Mavroyiannis who took 48.08 per cent of ballots.

Widely tapped as a favourite even before last Sunday's first round of voting, he is seen as an independent backed by centrist parties that take a hard line on moribund UN-backed talks on ending the island's decades-old division.

His candidature sparked a schism within the conservative ruling DISY party, whose candidate Averof Neofytou was booted out of the race after coming in third place in the first round—a first in the party's history.

Christodoulides served as government spokesman then foreign minister under outgoing President Nicos Anastasiades but quit as minister last June to enter the race.