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Palestinians Set to Vote in Key Presidential Election

Palestinians head to the polls Sunday to elect a new president and successor to Yasser Arafat. The election is considered a key step toward renewing peace talks with Israel.

Palestinians across the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem will be choosing a successor to the only leader they have really ever known.

Seven candidates are in-line to succeed Yasser Arafat as president of the Palestinian Authority. If the opinion polls are accurate, former Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas will be the winner.

Mr. Abbas has campaigned promising an end to violence and a resumption of peace talks with Israel.

Palestinians say they also hope the post-Arafat era will restore their battered economy and bring some stability back to their lives.

Close to 1.8 million Palestinians are eligible to vote but only about 1.2 million have actually registered. The militant group Hamas has said it will boycott the election.

Voting ends at 7 p.m. Sunday with preliminary results expected a few hours later.