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Conservative favored in Cyprus presidential poll

Right-wing opposition leader Nicos Anastasiades, right, maintaining a wide lead over his two main rivals for Cyprus’ presidency, left-wing candidate Stavros Malas, left, smiles before the start of their live televised debate in capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Friday, Feb. 22, 2013. The conservative candidate Nicos Anastasiades in Cyprus’ election runoff Sunday, Feb. 24, looks poised to become the crisis-hit country’s new president charged with swiftly negotiating a rescue package with international creditors, analysts said Wednesday, even without a key endorsement from his third-place rival. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) -- Cypriots are choosing a new president with the conservative candidate favored to win over his left-wing rival in a runoff vote.

Opposition party leader Nicos Anastasiades garnered 45.46 percent of the vote in the first round of voting, some 18 points over communist-backed Stavros Malas. The candidate that gets most of the cast votes Sunday will win the race.

The new president will have to finalize a financial rescue package with the other 16 countries that use the euro and the IMF to keep the country solvent as the economy shrinks and state coffers soon run dry.

He will face a tough battle convincing reluctant countries, especially Germany, that tiny Cyprus deserves help after its banks lost billions of euros on bad Greek debt.