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Last Updated: Saturday, 26 November 2005, 23:07 GMT
Barghouti wins Fatah primary poll
Marwan Barghouti
Shalom said there was no chance of Barghouti being released
Jailed Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti has emerged as one of the most popular candidates ahead of parliamentary elections in January.

Barghouti came top in a primary poll for the ruling Fatah movement in the West Bank district of Ramallah.

He is serving five life terms in an Israeli jail for planning the killing of four Israelis and a Greek monk.

Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said there was no chance of Barghouti getting an early release.

Barghouti, 46, won 34,000 out of 40,000 votes - affirming his status as one of Fatah's most popular politicians, say correspondents.

New guard

From his prison cell where he has been since his sentencing in 2004, Barghouti has continued to play an important role as a political figure.

Palestinian analysts say his victory is also a victory of the Fatah young guard, which has been pushing for a stronger say within the movement.

"The old guard has failed politically and administratively, and in running their organization in a democratic way," said Palestinian analyst Hani al-Masri.

But Mr Shalom vowed Barghouti would not be released.

"Marwan Barghouti has blood on his hands," he said. "Marwan Barghouti will sit in jail until the end of his days."

About 463,000 people have registered to vote in the selection process - the first time Fatah candidates have been selected by ballot.

Fatah primaries were held in many of the West Bank's largest districts on Friday and more will follow, including in the Gaza Strip, in the coming days.

There are 463 candidates in the West Bank and 311 in Gaza vying for a place on the final list to be presented to the electorate on 25 January.

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