After securing himself a new job as the prime minister of a Palestinian unity government, Mahmoud Abbas has also won the backing of Fatah for running in the next presidential election.

Following a three-day meeting in Ramallah, the Fatah revolutionary council, a key decision-making body, on Friday nominated Abbas as its candidate for the presidential election.

The council said the decision to nominate the 76-year-old Abbas was made unanimously.

Abbas has yet to respond to the decision. He has said that he does not plan to seek re-election.

In 2009, Abbas told the PLO executive committee and the Fatah revolutionary council that he would not seek to run for another term if and when new elections are held.

Abbas’s aides said at the time that his decision not to run for another term in office was taken because he was frustrated with efforts to revive the peace process.

However, in recent months, Abbas, whose term in office expired in January 2009, has come under pressure from Fatah leaders and some Arab countries to run for another term.

Fatah fears that Abbas’s failure to seek re-election would trigger a power struggle within the faction. Some Fatah officials have privately criticized Abbas and the old guard in the faction for failing to pave the way for the emergence of new leadership.

Abbas did not attend the revolutionary council meeting in Ramallah and it was not clear whether the decision to nominate him was binding.

Some Fatah officials expressed hope that Abbas would heed the decision, while others said they did not expect him to succumb to the pressure to seek re-election.

Abbas loyalists pointed out that public opinion polls published in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the past few months have shown that Fatah’s chances of winning the next election would be higher if Abbas headed the faction.

Amin Maqboul, the secretary-general of the revolutionary council, said over the weekend that the decision to nominate Abbas was binding. He voiced hope that Abbas would agree to the nomination.

However, he added that in the end, this was a personal matter and that Abbas alone would decide whether or not to run.

Abbas, meanwhile, told the Italian consul-general during a meeting in Ramallah on Saturday that a Palestinian unity government would abide by the PLO’s political program as well as all agreements signed with Israel.

Abbas said that the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation was in the interest of the Palestinian people and should be implemented without delay.

Hamas and Fatah representatives are scheduled to meet in Cairo later this week to discuss the formation of a unity government, PLO executive member Wasel Abu Yusef said Saturday.

He said the talks would focus on the names of the members of the unity government, which would be headed by Abbas.

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