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Candidate Registration Opens for Palestinian Poll

Palestinians formally opened the campaign to replace their late leader Yasser Arafat Saturday, as the registration period began for potential candidates for the January 9 ballot.

Former Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, Mr. Arafat's successor as head of the powerful Palestine Liberation Organization, is expected to be the leading contender if his Fatah faction chooses him as its candidate.

Candidates not put forward by a party must submit 5,000 signatures of support and $3,000. Among those planning to make bids are former Hamas leader Sheikh Talal Sidr and university professor Abdel Sattar Qassem.

On Friday, French officials released Mr. Arafat's medical records to his wife Suha. They said they will also give them to Mr. Arafat's nephew, Palestinian envoy Nasser al-Kidwa, if he asks for them.

Palestinian officials say they want to get the records to know Mr. Arafat's cause of death.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and AP.