Cyprus election favorite in talks to secure bridge loan
By Michele Kambas and Deepa Babington
NICOSIA (Reuters) - The frontrunner in Cyprus's presidential election runoff said on Thursday he has been in touch with governments and unspecified funds for a bridge loan to ensure the island nation does not run out of cash before it secures an international bailout.
Conservative leader Nicos Anastasiades, who polled over 45 percent in last Sunday's first voting round and is the favorite to win the February 24 runoff, told Reuters various parties, including "governments and funds" which he did not identify, had been "sounded out" for a short-term loan.
The "one or two month" loan would not supplant a bailout for which Cyprus is in talks with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, he said.
"This would be in order to complete the (bailout) loan agreement with some comfort, without the threat or the fear of collapse," Anastasiades told Reuters at his party offices.
"That means not to be under the dilemma of a deadline," he added.
The 66-year-old lawyer declined to say whom he had contacted. It was the first time a presidential candidate in Cyprus has disclosed talks to secure a loan ahead of a bailout rescue - talks which have dragged on for eight months.
"We would want a very short period to study the (bailout) terms, to see how we could avoid distortions without dealing with the pressure of the state going bankrupt," said Anastasiades, who faces leftist rival Stavros Malas on Sunday.
Malas, a pro-bailout but anti-austerity independent backed by the Communist party now in government, lags Anastasiades by 18 points in opinion polls. Continued...