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Hamas challenges Fatah rule

Hamas challenges Fatah rule


Islamic militant group Hamas made a strong showing in a Palestinian parliamentary election on Wednesday, denting the ruling Fatah movement's near-monopoly on power, first projections showed.

The strength of support for Hamas in the first Palestinian parliamentary election in a decade raised the prospect that it could win government posts for the first time and deal a further blow to hopes for peacemaking with Israel.

Polling officials with one institute said Hamas looked set to get over 30 percent, with more than 40 percent for Fatah. Another organisation also put Fatah on 40 percent, but said Hamas might have got over 35 percent.

Fatah activists fired in the air and honked car horns in celebration. But Hamas said its own figures showed it had received about 50 percent of the vote.

Hamas, whose charter calls for the destruction of Israel, was expected to capitalise on Fatah's image for corruption and mismanagement. It has largely respected a truce for a year.

Amid tight security, Palestinians voted at polling stations across the West Bank and Gaza Strip, emerging with index fingers were daubed in blue ink to prevent fraud.

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