China's Hu clears way for Xi to take party helm

BEIJING (AP) - President Hu Jintao has stepped aside as Communist Party leader to clear the way for Vice President Xi Jinping to take the helm in China.

Delegates to a pivotal party congress said that Hu was not re-elected a member of the party's Central Committee on the final day of the gathering Wednesday. Xi was re-elected along with other leading candidates for seats on the party's all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee.

Designated as successor five years ago, Xi will take over as party general secretary from Hu on Thursday and as president next spring, in China's second orderly transfer of power. Li Keqiang also is due to take over from Wen Jiabao as premier. The new leaders face an economic slowdown and rising unrest among citizens.