British Liberal Democrats' leadership election ends

Members of Britain's Liberal Democrats party had until noon Wednesday to return their postal ballots to elect a new leader.

The party's former leader Charles Kennedy resigned from the job in January after acknowledging he had a drinking problem. His deputy, Menzies Campbell, now the acting leader, was initially considered his likely successor, but has since lagged behind newly elected lawmaker Chris Huhne.

The Liberal Democrats will announce the election result Thursday. Britain's third largest party has 73,000 members, who are eligible to cast ballots.

The campaign to lead the left-leaning party has been tumultuous.

The party's law and order spokesman Mark Oaten quit the race days before a newspaper alleged he had paid for sex with a 23-year-old male prostitute. He released a statement apologizing for "errors of judgment" and for the embarrassment caused to family and friends.

Soon after, another contender, party president Simon Hughes, acknowledged he had had homosexual relationships, which he had previously denied. He remained in the race, reports the AP.


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