Abbas to sit out PLO, Fatah elections despite party objections

Abbas to sit out PLO, Fatah elections despite party objections

Fatah officials ask Palestinian president to reconsider decision to step down from the PLO’s Executive Committee

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a press conference, June 10, 2015 (AP/Darko Vojinovic)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a press conference, June 10, 2015 (AP/Darko Vojinovic)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has told members of his Fatah party he won’t seek re-election to the top posts in the Palestine Liberation Organization or his own Fatah movement in upcoming elections, despite calls from party officials to reconsider the decision, a senior Palestinian official said Tuesday.

“We asked him to think again, especially in this hard and serious period, and amid the effort by some people to get rid of him,” the secretary-general of the Fatah Revolutionary Council Amin Maqbul told the Palestinian Maan News.

Without naming any opposition parties specifically, the secretary-general said that a number of Palestinian factions were “complicating” internal politics.

Maqbul said that despite his resignation as head of the PLO’s Executive Committee, Abbas intends to retain his post as president of the Palestinian Authority self-rule government.

Maqbul said that Abbas’s resignation was a part of a broader effort to inject new blood in the Palestinian leadership. However, critics charge that the announcement is an effort to empower the president’s allies and marginalize opponents ahead of the 81-year-old’s eventual retirement.

Last month, Abbas and 18 other members of the PLO’s Executive Committee stepped down in a bureaucratic move intended to pave the way for a new Palestinian congress.

Shortly after the announcement, the Palestinian National Council — the PLO’s legislative body — said it would convene a session in mid-September to elect new executive committee.

The upcoming election of committee members would create a pool of potential Abbas successors and give the veteran politician a say in the future leadership of the Palestinian Authority.

According to a report in a Hamas-linked newspaper on Monday, Abbas asked Fatah members earlier this week to select potential candidates for his replacement. A source in Fatah told the al-Resalah daily that members of the party’s Revolutionary Council were summoned to a “crucial” meeting in Ramallah earlier that day evening to discuss Fatah candidates for the PLO’s next Executive Committee.

According to the Associated Press, Abbas informed the PLO leadership of his plans to sit out PLO and Fatah elections on Monday.

Elected in 2005, Abbas is now in the eleventh year of what was supposed to be a four-year term. He has threatened to resign or dissolve the Palestinian Authority several times since becoming president of the PA.

AP and Elhanan Miller contributed to this report.

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