Seven candidates are contesting the Palestinian presidential elections on Jan. 9. They are:

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Mahmoud Abbas, 69: interim Palestinian leader, head of the Palestine Liberation Organization and the nominee of the ruling Fatah party. Abbas, a prime minister under Yasser Arafat, is a pragmatist who opposes violence. During the election campaign he emphasized visions close to those of Arafat: a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, and the right of Palestinian refugees and their families to return to their homes in Israel. He also appeared with Palestinian militants committed to continuing the armed struggle against Israel.

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Mustafa Barghouti, 50: a physician and pro-democracy activist. He says he would represent the "silent majority" of Palestinians not affiliated with any political factions. A distant relative of jailed Palestinian uprising leader Marwan Barghouti, he was briefly detained by Israeli police on the last day of the campaign as he tried to enter the Old City of Jerusalem to pray at Al Aqsa mosque.

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Bassam Salhi, 44: leader of the People's Party, a small faction with communist roots. A resident of Ramallah, Salhi has been arrested several times by Israel.

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Taysser Khalid, 65: candidate of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a militant PLO faction. Khalid returned to the West Bank city of Nablus from Syria in 1995. He was arrested by Israel in April 2002 and released a year ago.

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Abdel Karim Shaber, 44: a lawyer from Gaza City. Shaber identifies with Islamic causes but is not a member of the militant groups Hamas or Islamic Jihad. He ran as an independent.

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Saed Baraka, 49: a businessman and Arabic language teacher from the Gaza Strip. Baraka, who also ran as an independent, was arrested by Israel and deported to Lebanon in 1989 because of links to Islamic Jihad. He returned to Gaza in 1996 and is a member of the Palestinian National Council, the PLO's parliament in exile.

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Abdelhalim al-Ashkar, 46: a U.S. resident with a degree in business administration. Al-Ashkar is under house arrest in Virginia, awaiting trial on racketeering and obstruction charges. Originally from the West Bank, he is running as an independent.