Cyprus coalition partner quits

The junior partner in Cyprus?s two-party coalition, centrist DIKO, withdrew from the Communist-led government on Wednesday, fueling political tensions ahead of the expected announcement Thursday of a new cabinet.

DIKO?s leader said the centrists were leaving the government of President Dimitris Christofias over disagreements on economic policy and the position of Nicosia in United Nations-mediated peace talks. ?Unfortunately it was not possible to establish full agreement on strategies to exit the [economic] crisis,? said party leader Marios Garoyan, adding that the two parties had ?starkly divergent stances regarding the handling of the Cyprus problem.?

The withdrawal of DIKO is not believed to endanger Christofias, whose term expires in 2013.

But Christofias?s AKEL lacks a majority in Parliament, which must approve austerity measures to curb an economic crisis. The crisis was prompted partly by Cyprus?s exposure to Greek debt and also by a fatal blast at a munitions dump last month that knocked out the island?s main power station.