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Fatah Woes Continue as Elections Lead to Infighting

While the Fatah conference has officially ended, tension and bickering remains as ousted leaders protest election results.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 8/13/2009, 6:26 PM

(Flash 90)

While the Fatah Conference in Bethlehem has come to a close, tension and bickering continues as various factions protest the results of the meeting. Several accusations and complaints have been aired following the announcement of elections results for Fatah's senior body, the Central Committee.

The results were officially announced Wednesday after multiple recounts. The recounts saw Abbas aide Atayyib Abdul Rahim move from nineteenth place, off the committee list, to sixteenth place, giving him a committee seat.

Senior Fatah member Ahmed Qureia, the former Palestinian Authority Prime Minister and PA negotiator, did not win a place on the Central Committee. Local Arab media quoted Qureia as slamming the Fatah elections process, and suggesting that senior Fatah members who were elected to the committee – such as Fatah strongman Mohammed Dahlan and Jibril Rajoub – were given guaranteed spots on the council due to alleged ties with Israel.

"The forgeries in Iran were much smaller than what we had in Palestine,” the former PA chief told Israeli news service Ynet.

Qureia criticized Rahim's rise in the rankings as well, calling the changed results “shameful”. Qureia failed to win one of the 18 council seats up for grabs according to all recounts.

PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, the head of Fatah, vehemently denied Thursday that elections had been rigged. Abbas, who was reelected to his own seat with no opposition, consoled those candidates who failed to win reelection, assuring them that they would be given positions elsewhere in Fatah.

Despite Abbas' attempt at reconciliation, several senior Fatah members in Judea, Samaria and Gaza announced Thursday that they would present Abbas with a statement officially condemning the results of the elections. The statement will be made public on Friday, they said.

Women, Gaza Reps Angered
Former Central Committee members who were ousted from their seats were not the only ones to complain following the results. The results also angered women's groups, as none of the 18 representatives selected is female.

Several Fatah delegates from Gaza expressed disappointment as well, complaining that there were disproportionately few Fatah members from Gaza elected to the council.

Kadoumi: I'm Legitimate, Abbas is Not
In another challenge to Abbas' authority, former Fatah secretary Farouq Kadoumi has announced that he remains the secretary of the terrorist group despite his public dispute with Abbas and other senior Fatah officials. The dispute began when Kadoumi accused Abbas and Dahlan of conspiring with Israel and the CIA to murder former Fatah head Yasser Arafat.

Kadoumi did not attend the Fatah Conference or run for reelection to the Central Committee. However, he told Arab media near his place of residence in Tunis that he will stay on as Fatah secretary no matter what Abbas has to say.

Kadoumi also denied that Abbas is the legitimate leader of Fatah, saying his reelection was illegal, as voting was held publicly.

More Trouble Coming?
The furor over the Central Committee vote results may be only the beginning of Fatah's post-conference woes. Results of voting for a second body, the Revolutionary Council, are expected to be announced later this week.

Results have been delayed due to delays and miscounting. Fatah leaders said Wednesday that they would bring local teachers in to count the ballots, after several of the official vote counters were found to have made serious mistakes.