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Dimitris Christofias
Δημήτρης Χριστόφιας

Christofias speaking in 2008

Incumbent
Assumed office 
28 February 2008
Preceded by Tassos Papadopoulos

In office
7 June 2001 – 28 February 2008
Preceded by Spyros Kyprianou
Succeeded by Marios Karoyian

General Secretary of AKEL
In office
22 April 1988 – 21 February 2009
Preceded by Ezekias Papaioannou
Succeeded by Andros Kyprianou

Born 29 August 1946 (1946-08-29) (age 63)
Dhikomo, Kyrenia, Cyprus
Nationality Greek Cypriot
Political party AKEL
Spouse(s) Elsie Chiratou
Religion Atheist

Dimitris Christofias also Demetris (Greek: Δημήτρης Χριστόφιας) is a left-wing Greek Cypriot politician and the current and sixth President of the Republic of Cyprus. Christofias was the General Secretary of AKEL and is Cyprus's first, and the European Union's first and so far only, communist head of state. He won the 2008 Cypriot presidential elections in the 2nd round of voting. Throughout the election campaign, he pledged to restart talks with Turkish Cypriots in order to find a solution to the Cyprus dispute and reunify the island. He has also supported the closure of the British military bases on Cyprus.[1]

Contents

Early life

He was born on 29 August 1946 in the village of Dhikomo, Kyrenia. Christofias became involved in leftist politics early in his youth and held several positions with the youth movement of AKEL (the Progressive Party of the Working People of Cyprus). His father, who died in 1987, was a progressive builder, member of the Pancyprian Federation of Labour (PEO).

He had his secondary-school education at Nicosia Commercial Lyceum, from where he graduated in 1964.

At the age of 14, he joined the progressive secondary-school students organisation PEOM and at the age of 18 he joined EDON (AKEL's United Democratic Youth Organisation), PEO Trade Unions and AKEL. In 1969, at the 5th Congress of EDON, he was elected member of the Central Council.

Dimitris Christofias studied at the Institute of Social Sciences and the Academy of Social Sciences in Moscow from which he graduated with the Diploma and degree of Doctor of Philosophy in History (Ph.D.History). In Moscow he met his wife, Elsie Chiratou, and later returned to Cyprus and political life.

Public figure

In 1974 he was elected to the post of the Central Organising Secretary of EDON and in 1977 of General Secretary. At this post he served till 1987.

In 1976 he was elected member of the Nicosia-Kyrenia District Committee of AKEL, and in 1982 – at the 15th Congress of AKEL – he was elected member of the Central Committee of the Party.

In July 1986 he was elected alternate member of the Political Bureau of the C.C. of AKEL. After the 16th Congress of AKEL, held in November 1986, he was elected full member of the P.B. of C.C. AKEL and in 1987 (after terminating his service as General Secretary of EDON) he was elected member of the Secretariat of C.C. AKEL. In April 1988, following the death of Ezekias Papaioannou, he was elected General Secretary of the C.C. AKEL, a post he held until 2009.

Rise to local leadership

Christofias was elected Member of the House of Representatives for the first time in 1991 and was re-elected in the subsequent parliamentary elections of 1996 and 2001. On 7 June 2001 he was elected President of the House of Representatives. He was re-elected as president of the House of Representatives in 2006. In his function of General Secretary of the C.C. AKEL and President of the House of Representatives, he was a Member of the National Council, a supreme advisory body to the President of the Republic.

He was ex officio chairman of the House Standing Committee on Selection and chairman of the Ad Hoc House Standing Committee on Rules of Procedure and of the Special House Standing Committee on Declaration and Examination of Property.

He was also president of the executive committees of the Cyprus Group to the Inter-Parliamentary Union (I.P.U.) and of the Cyprus Branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (C.P.A.).

Dimitris Christofias is married to Elsie (Chiratou) Christofias (1972) and they have three children – two daughters, Marianna and Christina, and a son, Christos. He is a recipient of a living-related kidney transplant, donated by his sister.[2]

2008 presidential election

The first round of the February 2008 presidential election, held on 17 February, saw a close result between the three leading candidates—Christofias, Ioannis Kasoulides of DISY, and the incumbent Tassos Papadopoulos—Christofias narrowly placing second with 33.3% of the vote, behind Kasoulidis with 33.5%. Christofias and Kasoulidis participated in a second round on February 24[3] for which Christofias received the backing of Papadopoulos's party, DIKO.[4] Christofias went on to win the election with 53.37% of the vote.[5]After his success he pledged to restart talks to find a solution to reunify the island. In addressing a jubilant crowd waving Cypriot and Che Guevara flags in the Cyprus capital Nicosia's streets the new president-elect said he looked forward to "substantial cooperation for the benefit of both communities." [6] "Tomorrow, a new day begins. We will see many difficulties ahead of us. As of tomorrow, we unite our forces...to achieve the reunification of our country,"[7]

Christofias was sworn in as President at a ceremony in the House of Representatives on February 28, 2008, vowing that "the solution of the Cyprus problem will be the top priority of my government".[8] Although proud to be a communist, he says he will leave the free market economy alone.[9] While much of the focus beyond Cyprus has been on Mr Christofias's communist background and education in Moscow, on the island voters have been more concerned with a solution to Europe's longest running conflict[10], the island's partition since 1974.

References

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Tassos Papadopoulos
President of Cyprus
2008–present
Incumbent
Preceded by
Spyros Kyprianou
President of the House of Representatives
2001–2008
Succeeded by
Marios Karoyian
Party political offices
Preceded by
Ezekias Papaioannou
Secretary General of AKEL
1988–2009
Succeeded by
Andros Kyprianou
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