Cyprus president extends lead over rivals - poll

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NICOSIA, Oct 14 (Reuters) Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos has extended his lead over two rival candidates ahead of a presidential election in February, a poll published today showed.

Papadopoulos, who is seeking a second five-year term, is in the lead with 30.2 per cent, 2.2 percentage points more than the last poll in July, the survey published in Politis daily said.

He was followed by Communist candidate Demetris Christofias, with 26.9 per cent and independent candidate Ioannis Kassoulides with 26.2 percent.

Presidential elections are scheduled for Feb 17, 2008. The vote goes into a runoff a week later if no candidate received a clear majority in the first round.

The Noverna poll for Politis, conducted from Oct 4-10, showed 15.5 percent of 800 respondents were undecided.

Papadopoulos, 73, led his Greek Cypriot community into rejecting a United Nations reunification plan for Cyprus a week before the island joined the European Union in 2004. Cyprus was split along ethnic lines in a 1974 Turkish invasion which followed a brief Greek-inspired coup.

Challengers accuse Papadopoulos of not being proactive enough in attempting to ease the deadlock, which is harming Turkey's hopes of joining the European Union.

REUTERS PD KN1623

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