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Al-Aqsa Brigades endorse al-Barghuthi
The Palestinian resistance group Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades says it is opposed to Mahmud Abbas as Yasir Arafat's successor and would instead back jailed West Bank Fatah leader Marwan al-Barghuthi.
Abbas, the new Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) leader, is expected to be formally named as the candidate for the 9 January election for the mainstream Fatah party that he co-founded with Arafat, of which the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades is an armed offshoot.
A poll conducted last month said al-Barghuthi was the second most popular choice for Palestinian Authority president trailing Arafat, who died on 11 November in a Paris hospital.
Fadwa al-Barghuthi said her husband - widely regarded as the inspiration behind the second Palestinian intifada - was the strongest candidate for the presidency, but that his bid would depend on Fatah.
But on Monday, Palestinian Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath said Fatah had reached a consensus that Abbas should be its candidate in the election to replace Arafat.
In June, al-Barghuthi was sentenced in a controversial verdict by an Israeli court to five life terms. He has denied all charges.
Al-Aqsa opposes Abbas as Palestinian leader
Militant Palestinian group prefers jailed Barghuti to be their candidate for Palestinian leadership.
Fatah's military wing, Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, on Tuesday said it would not support Mahmud Abbas (Abu Mazen) as the next president of the Palestinian Authority, but would instead back jailed West Bank Fatah leader, Marwan Barghuti.
"We do not support Abu Mazen for the election and we have decided to vote for Marwan Barghuti to be our candidate for president," a spokesman told AFP.
Abbas, the new PLO leader, is expected to be formally named as the candidate for the January 9 election for Fatah.
Abbas has reportedly asked Palestinian groups to halt attacks against Israel during the campaign for the elections. Ziad Abu Amr, a lawmaker participating in the talks, told The AP Hamas and Islamic Jihad have asked Abbas to establish a "unified leadership." Abu Amr said Abbas told these groups that "the best way to achieve a political partnership is elections." (albawaba.com)