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Hamas kicks off leadership vote with secret Gaza ballot; pragmatists, young join veterans
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) ' Hamas officials say the Islamic militant movement has secretly chosen new leaders for Gaza, including previously sidelined pragmatists.
The Gaza vote was the first of a series of movement-wide elections that will also determine a new supreme leader by next month.
Hamas' current leader, Khaled Mashaal, has pursued a more pragmatic line, trying to steer Hamas away from patron Iran. He also seeks reconciliation with Western-backed rival Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president.
Several Hamas officials confirmed Thursday that Gaza members voted this week for local leaders and representatives in a movement-wide leadership body.
One official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of strict secrecy rules, says a majority of the new Gaza delegates back Mashaal.