Hamas's leader in exile, Khaled Mashaal, is tired of policy challenges from the Islamist group's Gaza-based leadership and is not seeking re-election in a vote now underway, political and diplomatic sources said on Sunday.
Over the past five months, Hamas, which has ruled the Gaza Strip since 2007, has been quietly holding a leadership ballot among activists in the territory, the West Bank, Israeli prisons and in Arab and other foreign countries.
Mashaal, who has led Hamas since 1996 from various Arab capitals, told a meeting of its senior officials in Cairo last week that he had no desire to remain its chief and his decision not to run in the election was final, said a source close to Hamas.
"He (Mashaal) told them to pick another leader," the source said.
Mashaal and other Hamas officials have made no public comment on his future leadership or on the Cairo meeting.
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