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Peres Ousted as Israeli Labor Party Chief

Israel's elder statesman, Nobel laureate Shimon Peres, has been ousted as the Labor party leader by a trade unionist who says he will quit the ruling coalition government and force early elections.

Trade union chief Amir Peretz won a vote among 100,000 rank-and-file Labor Party members Thursday. A short while after his upset win, Mr. Peretz said he would press Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to set a date for national elections.

Mr. Peretz linked Labor's pullout from the ruling coalition to party opposition to free market reforms and spending cuts.

Mr. Peres brought his party into the ruling coalition last year as a junior partner to help back Prime Minister Sharon's evacuation of Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip.

Most analysts had expected Mr. Peres, a former prime minister, to retain his party's leadership post.

Some information for this report provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.