Plaid Cymru elects leader after bitter contest

Ieuan Wyn Jones regained his leadership of Plaid Cymru at the Welsh Assembly last night, narrowly beating the shadow Welsh Education Minister, Helen Jones, in an poll for the post he vacated in May.

Mrs Jones beat Mr Jones by 11 in the first round of voting. But when the votes of the third candidate were redistributed under the alternative vote system used for the election, Mr Jones was handed victory.

Dafydd Iwan, a folk singer, was elected as the party's new president.

Mr Jones quit as Plaid Cymru president and party leader after the Welsh nationalists' disappointing performance in the Assembly election in May. He had permanently relinquished the presidency, but fought to regain the Assembly leadership.

He beat Mrs Jones by 2,603 votes to 2,532 after his deputy, Rhodri Glyn Thomas, was eliminated in a first round of voting.

It was a sweet victory for Mr Jones; his supporters blamed Mrs Jones for undermining him and forcing him to resign in the first place. He had beaten her in the 2000 election for the leadership. But yesterday he called for party unity.

Speaking after the count in Cardiff, he said: "The party must work together from top to bottom - the Assembly group, at Westminster, in Europe and in local government, as a united party pulling together." Mr Jones urged the nationalists to lead a renewed campaign to make the Assembly a parliament with greater powers.

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