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Fatah Endorses Abbas As Party Leader


President Mahmud Abbas greets Fatah delegates as he enters the Fatah convention in the town of Bethlehem on August 4.

President Mahmud Abbas greets Fatah delegates as he enters the Fatah convention in the town of Bethlehem on August 4.

BETHLEHEM, West Bank (Reuters) -- Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas has received firm endorsement from his Fatah party to remain its leader in an impromptu vote in which he was unchallenged.

Abbas received the approval in a show of hands from the vast majority of Fatah's 2,300 delegates participating in the movement's first congress for 20 years and the first on Palestinian soil.

Abbas succeeded the late Fatah founding father Yasser Arafat, who led the movement for 40 years until his death in 2004.

Fatah is seeking to throw off a reputation for corruption and cronyism that led in 2006 to an election loss to Islamist rival Hamas which opposes peace talks with Israel.

The congress in Bethlehem began on August 4 and has been marked by reformists' charges of vote-buying and nepotism by an "old guard."
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