Palestinian leader’s Fatah party holds primaries in major West Bank cities |

Palestinian leader’s Fatah party holds primaries in major West Bank cities

RAMALLAH, West Bank – Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party held primaries Friday in six West Bank cities to choose candidates for a January parliament election.In all, primaries were scheduled in 16 districts in the West Bank and Gaza, but only seven were ready on time, including the towns of Ramallah, Nablus and Jenin. No voting took place in Gaza.Prominent fugitives and Palestinians serving time in Israeli prisons, such as the popular uprising leader Marwan Barghouti, were running in the West Bank primaries with a good chance of grabbing leading spots on Fatah’s list.Abbas and a team of Fatah Central Committee members will choose the candidates for the other nine districts on Saturday, said Ahmed Diek, coordinator of the Fatah election commission.The failure to hold primaries in all the districts was “due to conflicts, contradictions and differences” over the lists, Diek said.”The structure of the movement is still flabby and couldn’t absorb or deal with a wide democracy such as this,” Diek said.Fatah’s inability to hold primaries in all the districts and the infighting that plagues the party could strengthen the Islamic militant group Hamas, said Hani Masri, a Palestinian political analyst.Hamas is competing in general elections for the first time and is expected to make a strong showing against Fatah.”We will probably see Fatah competing against itself in the election … giving Hamas a better chance of winning,” Masri said.In the West Bank town of Tamoun, armed Fatah members entered a voting station and burned several ballot boxes, Fatah officials said.Fatah had been controlled by one man, the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, from the movement’s founding in the mid-1960s until Arafat’s death a year ago.Vail, Colorado

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