Fatah delays primaries due to infighting

The ruling Palestinian party, Fatah, blamed infighting and extortion attempts by militants for its failure on Friday to hold primaries. While the delay was not slated to affect the timing of parliamentary elections on Jan. 25, it could further alienate the young guard of the party that hopes to bring new blood into the movement. Fatah was trying to unite to face the strong challenge of the Islamic Hamas group at the polls. Ahmed Diek, coordinator of the Fatah elections committee, said the 11 voting districts in the West Bank and five in the Gaza Strip would be permitted to hold primaries up to Nov. 25. Districts that do not hold primaries by then will have their candidates appointed directly by party bosses, he said. Fatah leaders, representing the older generation of the party, might try to keep out newcomers and thus force political hopefuls to run as independents, said Qadoura Fares, a Fatah legislator and member of the young guard. The primaries were postponed in part because local armed Fatah groups were threatening to disrupt the polls unless they were paid off with plum civil service jobs, Diek said.
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