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Last Updated: Friday, 24 December, 2004, 15:47 GMT
Hamas makes mark in local polls
Hamas supporters celebrate the news of the results in the West Bank.
Hamas has made a strong showing, according to partial election results
Hamas has made a strong showing at Palestinian local council elections in the West Bank, partial results show.

On the basis of returns from 21 of 26 localities, mainstream political faction Fatah were in front but the Islamists were in second place.

One election official said Hamas was beating Fatah in some localities.

It is the first time the group has participated in the democratic process but it is boycotting the presidential election in January.

The group is opposed to the Oslo peace accords with Israel which resulted in the creation of the Palestinian Authority.

The elections are seen by some as a test of Hamas's popularity beyond its powerbase in Gaza and in comparison to Fatah.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and other independent candidates are also standing in the local elections.

Election commission officials put turnout at 84% of a possible 140,000 eligible Palestinians.

A similar vote is due to take place in the Gaza Strip towards the end of January.

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