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Vote counting for Fatah leadership election begins
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09:33, August 11, 2009

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At the end of the voting process to elect a new leadership for Fatah party, the counting of votes has begun on Monday night at 21:20 p.m. (1920 GMT) in the West Bank city Bethlehem.

Around 2,500 Fatah congress members joined on Sunday and Monday the internal election to choose 18 members for the movement's central committee and 80 members for the group's revolutionary council.

The voting process was extended until 16:00 p.m. (1400 GMT) to enable all Gaza congress members to vote through telephones and cellular phones, after they were banned by Hamas to travel to Bethlehem to join the conference.

The congress officials said that the process of the vote counting would take a long time, expecting that the final results would be announced early on Tuesday morning for both the central committee and the revolutionary council.

Monir Salama, director of the congress said that the process of counting the votes "is going smoothly," adding that "there are volunteers who are joining the process of the vote counting until the results are announced."

Mahmoud Abbas, Fatah chief and the Palestinian President had suddenly arrived at the hall where the process of the vote counting is taking place at the Tarasanta College.

At the first meeting of the two Fatah high-level bodies, the central committee will nominate another five members, bringing the total number to 23, while the revolutionary council will also nominate another 40 members, bringing the total to 120.

The sixth congress that is held for the first time in the Palestinian territories in 20 years was launched in the biblical city of Bethlehem on August 4. However, around 400 Gaza congress members were banned by Hamas movement to travel.

The competitors for the central committee were 96 and for the revolutionary council were 672. Most of Fatah congress members who run in the elections represent the young generation in the movement.

The movement had passed crucial circumstances over the past 20 years, mainly being ousted in January 2006 parliamentary elections by its rival Hamas movement, and also when Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in June 2007.

Source: Xinhua

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