RAMALLAH, Nov 26: Jailed West Bank militant leader Marwan Barghouti announced on Friday he would npt run in next year's Palestinian leadership election, heading off a potentially damaging rift in the dominant Fatah faction.

In a statement read for him by Palestinian minister without portfolio Qaddura Fares in the West Bank town of Ramallah, Mr Barghouti called instead for Palestinians to support Fatah's official candidate, Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) chief Mahmoud Abbas, in the Jan 9 election.

"Members and supporters of Fatah (must) support the movement's candidate, the combatant, brother Mahmoud Abbas," read Mr Fares, who visited Mr Barghouti in his Israeli prison cell earlier in the day. Speculation had been rife that Mr Barghuti would announce formally his decision to stand in the vote. -AFP

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