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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

World Leaders Laud Victory of PLO Chief

CAIRO -- World leaders praised Yasser Arafat's landslide victory in Palestinian elections as a massive endorsement of the Israeli-PLO peace pact but his Arab enemies reacted with contempt. Arafat's Palestinian foes, who could not deny the electoral process was fair, said it was a hollow victory for the man they said had monopolized his leadership by buying loyalties, intimidating opponents and standing in the historic polls without any serious rivals.

But congratulations to the guerrilla-turned-peacemaker poured from around the globe.

"January 20 will enter into history as another important step towards Palestinian self determination and peaceful co-existence between the Palestinian and Israeli people," EC President Jacques Santer told Arafat in a telegram.

President Jacques Chirac was one of the first world leaders to congratulate Arafat. "Through you, the Palestinian people have clearly chosen peace, stability and economic development in the Middle East," he told him in a letter.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Viktor Posuvalyuk said: "Yasser Arafat believed and believes in Russia and we believed and believe in him."

South African President Nelson Mandela, another guerrilla-turned-president, also telephoned the Palestinian leader "to wish him well in building a new society and democracy."

German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel congratulated Arafat "for an impressive election victory and the Palestinian people for a clear endorsement of the autonomy and peace process."

British Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind congratulated Arafat and said Jan. 20 was "an historic day -- a turning point for Palestinian democracy."