Abbas may not run in coming election: official

14:22, October 28, 2009      

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by Fares Akram, Emad Drimly

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas may not run in the Palestinian presidential election to be held in January 2010, an official from Abbas's Fatah party said on Tuesday.

"President Abbas is eager to relax after this long and hard journey," Abdullah Abu Samahdana, a Fatah official based in Gaza, told Xinhua.

However, if Fatah nominated Abbas to represent it in the elections, "he might accept," Abu Samahdana added.

Abbas, who was elected as Palestinian president in January 2005,issued a decree on Friday declaring presidential and parliamentary elections early next year.

"Abbas's decree responds to a constitutional duty to prevent any legal vacuum after the end of his term and the Palestinian Legislative Council's (PLC) term," Abu Samahdana added.

Abbas issued the decree despite an opposition by Islamic Hamas movement which dominates the PLC after winning the 2006 legislative elections. In 2007, Hamas routed pro-Abbas forces and seized control of the Gaza Strip.

The decree was meant to pressure Hamas to accept an Egyptian proposal aimed at restoring political unity to Gaza and the Fatah-ruled West Bank.

Hamas has threatened to prevent the voting process in the Gaza Strip, saying time is unsuitable to held polls.

However, a senior advisor to Abbas has denied that Abbas had informed any of his aides about his intention not to run in the coming elections.

"The decision to run in the presidential elections is not in the hands of Abbas alone; it is Fatah and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) which decides," Abbas's advisor told Xinhua over the phone.

The advisor, who asked his name not to be published due to the sensitivity of the issue, added that Abbas "is always ready to give up the presidency chair for the sake of national unity."

Abbas, who is now 70 years old, succeeded late leader Yasser Arafat who died in a French hospital from unknown disease in November 2004.

Abu Samahdana urged Hamas to accept the Egyptian proposal which delays the elections to June 2010 in order to give the Palestinian rivals more time to settle their differences.

"Hamas still has some time to sign the document and preserve the extensive efforts that the Egyptian brothers have exerted to reach the reconciliation," he said.

The Palestinian general elections will be held in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and East Jerusalem in January if Hamas refused to accept the Egyptian offer, Abu Samahdana said.

The Palestinian Central Elections Committee (CEC) "has drawn up some plans to organize the elections in Gaza if Hamas banned the voters from voting," he added.

Source: Xinhua
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