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Wednesday, 28 July 2021

Fatah to hold first congress since 2009 this month

AFP , Tuesday 1 Nov 2016
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (Photo: Reuters)

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas said Tuesday that his Fatah party, which is facing internal divisions, will hold its first congress since 2009 at the end of November.

A unanimous decision was taken by Fatah's senior most body, the central committee, to convene the congress on November 29 in the West Bank city of Ramallah, he said in a statement.

The central committee chaired by Abbas is the backbone of Fatah, tasked with developing and implementing the party's strategy.

The congress is expected to elect a new 23-member central committee as well a 132-strong revolutionary council, which is considered Fatah's parliament.

Analysts have said plans to hold the long overdue congress is a bid by Abbas to stave off rivals, including Mohammad Dahlan, Fatah's former strongman in the Gaza Strip.

Dahlan was expelled from the party in 2011 and now lives in exile in the United Arab Emirates.

The congress is seen as an opportunity for Abbas to reshuffle key positions and sideline allies of Dahlan.

Besides splits within the party, Abbas's secular Fatah and the Islamist movement Hamas have been at loggerheads since the latter seized Gaza in a near conflict in 2007.

Reconciliation attempts between them have repeatedly failed.

The congress will be held as the 81-year-old Abbas is under heavy political pressure at home and from abroad.

Arab states have reportedly pressured Abbas to bring Dahlan back from exile while opinions polls at home have suggested most Palestinians would like him to step down.

The congress will be the seventh since Fatah -- the largest faction of the Palestine Liberation Organisation -- was founded nearly 60 years ago.

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