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'Fayyad mulling PA presidential run'
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH
06/12/2011
Sources say PA prime minister considering a run for president if Abbas does not run for reelection.
 
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas Tuesday chaired a meeting of the Fatah central committee in Ramallah amid reports that Prime Minister Salam Fayyad is planning to run in the next presidential election.

Sources close to Fayyad were quoted as saying that the prime minister would present his candidacy for PA president only if Abbas decides not to run for another term.

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The sources told the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper that Fayyad believes that his chances of being elected are very high in light of his accomplishments and the respect he enjoys in the local and international arenas.

Fayyad, who heads the independent Third Way list, won only two seats in the parliamentary election that was held in the Palestinian territories in 2006.

The sources added that Fayyad would not make a final decision to run for the presidency until Fatah, the largest faction of the PLO, elects its own candidate.

Abbas has repeatedly stated in recent years that he does not intend to run for another term in the next elections, which are slated for May.

If Fayyad decides in the end to run in the election as an independent candidate, that would be at the expense of a Fatah candidate, since Hamas supporters are unlikely to cast their ballots for him.

Although the official reason for Tuesday’s Fatah gathering in Ramallah was to discuss the current stalemate in the peace process with Israel, a Fatah official said that some of his colleagues also sought clarifications from Abbas about his agreement with Hamas to hold new elections.

At the meeting, Abbas this time did not say whether he would seek another term in office.

Jamal Muhaissen, member of the Fatah central committee, said that he and his colleagues were trying to persuade Abbas to run in the next presidential election.

“Fatah insists that President Abbas be its presidential candidate,” Muhaissen said, adding that he was unaware of other potential candidates from Fatah.

Fatah activists said that some of the names being touted as potential candidates include top Fatah officials Nabil Sha’ath, Saeb Erekat, Azzam al- Ahmed, Mahmoud al-Aloul and Mohammed Shtayyeh.

According to the activists, the five leading candidates will seek the backing of Fatah only when Abbas formally announces that he won’t seek re-election.

One of the potential candidates, Ahmed, met Tuesday with US Consul-General Daniel Rubinstein and discussed with him Fatah’s preparations for the next elections.

Fatah officials voiced optimism in the past few days about the prospects of their faction winning the vote.

They claimed that many Palestinians have become disillusioned with Hamas after five years of the movement’s rule in the Gaza Strip and its failure to improve the living conditions of Palestinians living there.
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