Hamas re-elects Khaled Meshaal as political leader

Khaled Meshaal (file image) Khaled Meshaal had indicated he would not stand for another term

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The Palestinian Islamist group Hamas has re-elected Khaled Meshaal as its political leader, officials said.

Mr Meshaal has headed Hamas, the group that governs the Gaza Strip, since the assassination of its founder in 2004.

Correspondents said there had been speculation he would be forced aside by the militant movement's powerful leaders in the Gaza Strip.

Mr Meshaal himself had indicated last year that he would not be seeking a new term.

However, a Hamas official said the party's governing Shura council re-elected him for another four years at a meeting in the Egyptian capital Cairo late on Monday.

Khaled Meshaal became Hamas's political leader when its founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin was assassinated by Israel in 2004.

Born near Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, Mr Meshaal has spent decades in exile and visited Gaza for the first time in December.

He agreed a delicate truce with Israel in November and has also sought to heal a rift with rival Palestinian group Fatah, led by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Hamas is officially regarded as a terrorist organisation by Israel, the EU and the US.

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