(Bloomberg) -- Nicos Christodoulides is leading in the first round of Cyprus’ presidential election, an exit poll for state broadcaster RIK showed shortly after voting ended.  

Christodoulides, 49, is projected to win 30.5% to 33.5% of the vote, according to the poll. He served as government spokesman and foreign minister in the first and second administrations of outgoing President Nicos Anastasiades, who’s ineligible to stand again after completing two terms in office. 

While a longtime member of Anastasiades’s center-right Disy party, Christodoulides was ejected from the group after deciding to stand as an independent against Averof Neofytou, Disy’s official candidate.  

Neofytou, 61, is seen tying in second place along with Andreas Mavroyiannis, 66, backed by the left-wing Akel party. Both candidates are seen getting between 26.5% and 29.5% of the vote. 

Neofytou is president of Disy while Mavroyiannis is a career diplomat who has served as Cypriot ambassador to the United Nations, France and Ireland and was most recently the negotiator of the Greek-Cypriot community in talks for the reunification of Cyprus. 

As no candidate is seen winning more than 50% of the vote, the two top vote-getters will proceed to a second round of voting on Feb. 12 to decide the winner.  

--With assistance from Sotiris Nikas.

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