Prisoners to Abbas: Delay elections, nominate Barghouti as VP

Prisoners belonging to Mahmoud Abbas's ruling faction called for him to delay elections to Palestinian parliament.

PALESTINIAN PRESIDENT Mahmoud Abbas – not saying anything about the elections, but working behind the scenes? (photo credit: MOHAMAD TOROKMAN/REUTERS)
PALESTINIAN PRESIDENT Mahmoud Abbas – not saying anything about the elections, but working behind the scenes?
Palestinian security prisoners in Israeli prisons called on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to postpone the election for the Palestinian parliament, the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), slated for May 22.
The prisoners, who belong to Abbas’s ruling Fatah faction, said on Friday in a letter to the PA president and members of the Fatah Central Committee, the faction’s highest decision-making body, that one of the reasons why the vote needs to be delayed was because Israel will not allow the election to take place in Jerusalem.
The prisoners suggested that Abbas hold the presidential election according to the US electoral system, where the president and vice president run together.
Accordingly, they said, Abbas would run for president, while imprisoned Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti would be nominated for vice president. “This will affirm Fatah’s unity, which is based on the legitimacy of its historic leadership,” the prisoners added.
Barghouti is serving five life sentences in Israeli prison for his role in terrorist attacks during the Second Intifada (2000-2005). He and Nasser al-Kidwa, a nephew of former PLO leader Yasser Arafat, have joined forces to contest the parliamentary election as part of the Al-Hurriya list. Barghouti himself is not on the list. Kidwa is running together with Barghouti’s wife, Fadwa.
Earlier this week, Kidwa announced during a visit to the Gaza Strip that Barghouti would be Al-Hurriya’s candidate for the upcoming presidential election.
Another reason for delaying the election, the prisoners said, was the raging power struggle among senior Fatah officials ahead of the vote.
The prisoners warned Abbas that Fatah could lose “tens of thousands of votes” because at least 15 Fatah-affiliated lists have registered for the parliamentary election.
“This means that Fatah could lose seven to 10 seats in the parliament,” the prisoners cautioned. The PLC has 132 members.
The prisoners said that after postponing the election, Abbas should amend the election law so as to allow any Palestinian to present his or her candidacy for the PA presidential election, scheduled for July 31. Afterward, the prisoners suggested, the Al-Huriyya list headed by Kidwa – who was recently expelled from Fatah – would pull out from the race and merge with the official Fatah list, dominated by Abbas loyalists.
At the same time, negotiations would be conducted with the other Fatah-affiliated lists to reach “satisfactory solutions” that would prevent the loss of many votes, the prisoners said.
They called on Abbas to reconsider his decision to expel Kidwa from Fatah and restore his membership in the Fatah Central Committee.
The prisoners did not mention the list of exiled Fatah leader Mohammed Dahlan, which is also running in next month’s parliamentary election. Dahlan was also expelled from Fatah, in 2011 after a fallout with Abbas. His list, Al-Mustaqbal, consists mostly of disgruntled Fatah activists and former PA security officials in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.