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Fatah backs Abbas as party leader

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Fatah backs Abbas as party leader
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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has been given the backing of his Fatah party to remain its leader in an impromptu vote with no challengers.

Abbas received the endorsement – in a show of hands – from the vast majority of Fatah’s 2,300 delegates attending the movement’s first congress for 20 years and the first on Palestinian soil, in Bethlehem. Fatah is struggling to end internal battles between rival camps in an attempt to improve its image among voters ahead of elections scheduled for January 2010. The faction, founded by the late Yasser Arafat is seeking to reinvent itself and cast off a reputation for cronyism which, in 2006, led to an election loss in Gaza to radical Islamist rival Hamas which opposes peace talks with Israel.