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Jailed Barghouti mulls leader bid
by sources
Thursday Nov 25th, 2004 11:48 AM
There are indications that jailed Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti may be considering running in the upcoming presidential elections.

There is no confirmation, but officials in the Fatah movement have been quoted saying that he wants to stand.
The officials have not said whether he would run as an independent or try to step forward as Fatah's candidate.

Fatah's nominee to succeed Yasser Arafat will be named at a crucial meeting on Thursday night.

It is possible that reports of Barghouti's plans to run are linked to politicking ahead of this meeting.


Barghouti is currently serving five life sentences on terrorism charges in an Israeli prison.

But on the Palestinian street he is seen by many as a hero, and a major figure in the fight against Israeli occupation.

He has been described as charismatic and determined, and was often thought of as a natural successor to Arafat.

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Fatah Revolutionary Council on Thursday approved former Palestinian prime minister and PLO leader Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) as the movement's official candidate for the chairmanship of the Palestinian Authority, to replace Yasser Arafat who died two weeks ago.

"The revolutionary council has voted to approve the central committee's decision to nominate Abu Mazen for the
presidential elections," Abdel-Rahim told reporters Thursday after 100 of the 129-member body voted to approve the nomination.

The council's decision to back Abbas comes days after the movement's central committee named him as candidate.

The election will be held on January 9, in line with the Palestinian constitution's stipulation that the vote take place within 60 days of an incumbent's death.

Meanwhile, sources in Fatah, the ruling Palestinian movement, said Thursday that Marwan Barghouti - the Fatah-Tanzim military leader currently serving five life sentences in an Israeli jail - also intends to announce his candidacy.

"[Barghouti] has decided to run for president," the official, who said he had spoken with the Tanzim leader's lawyer, told Reuters. "An official announcement will be made within 24 hours."

There has been no official confirmation from Barghouti or his lawyers of his intention to stand in the elections.

Amin Maqboul, the secretary general of the Fatah Higher Committee said that Barghouti has informed Fatah leaders through his lawyers that he will compete.

In the only statement Barghouti issued from his prison cell a week before Arafat's death, he called the late PA chairman "the sole legitimately elected leader of the Palestinians.

"Any other situation should be determined by elections," Barghouti said.

The Kuwaiti daily Al Qabas reported several weeks ago that a deal was being formulated under which Barghouti would be released from prison in exchange for the release of Azzam Azzam, an Israeli citizen who was arrested and imprisoned by Egypt in 1997 on charges of spying for Israel.

According to the report, officials in the European Union have been backing the initiative.

RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) - Jailed uprising leader Marwan Barghouti has decided to run for Palestinian Authority president in a Jan. 9 election, seeking to succeed the late Yasser Arafat and throwing Palestinian politics into turmoil, his associates said Thursday.

Barghouti, 45, is challenging interim leader Mahmoud Abbas, 69, a pragmatist who appears to have the tacit support of Israel and the United States.

The candidacy sharpens a power struggle in the ruling Fatah movement, pitting the old guard of politicians that had returned with Arafat from exile against the younger generation of activists who led two uprisings in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Earlier this week, Abbas was nominated as the presidential candidate of Fatah, mainly with the support of the old guard. The young guard, represented in part by Barghouti, is seeking a greater share of the power.

Barghouti informed his associates Thursday, through his lawyers, that he would run.

One Fatah official, Abdel Rahman Shomali, said he would distribute a statement by Barghouti later Thursday. A top Fatah official, Amin Maqboul, also said he was informed of Barghouti's decision to run.

The uprising leader, who is serving five life terms for his role in attacks on Israelis, has not explained how he would run Palestinian affairs from prison in the event of victory. However, his supporters have said they are counting on international pressure on Israel to free Barghouti.

Both Abbas and Barghouti support the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem.

While Abbas has spoken out against violence and said the current uprising was a mistake, Barghouti has justified attacks on Israeli soldiers and settlers in the West Bank and Gaza as legitimate resistance to occupation.

Also Thursday, Israeli President Moshe Katsav was quoted as saying that Israel should stop building its West Bank separation barrier if Palestinian militants halt attacks.

And Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon faced a new coalition crisis, with a key partner, the secular-rights Shinui Party, threatening to quit. If Shinui bolts, Sharon could be forced into early elections, which in turn would delay or halt his plan to withdraw from the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank in 2005.

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Marwan Barghouti, a fiery young Palestinian leader, made it known today that he is running for Yasser Arafat’s position as head of the Palestinian Authority, defying the traditional leadership and scrambling the political picture ahead of the January 9 poll.

Barghouti, 45, is challenging interim leader Mahmoud Abbas, 69, a pragmatist who appears to have the tacit support of Israel and the United States.

This sharpens a power struggle in the ruling Fatah movement, pitting the old guard of politicians, like Abbas, who returned with Arafat from exile in 1994, against the younger generation of activists who led two uprisings in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Arafat ruled Fatah for nearly 40 years.

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by Arab News (repost)
Friday Nov 26th, 2004 11:42 AM
GAZA CITY, 26 November 2004 — Jailed intifada leader Marwan Barghouti yesterday threw January’s Palestinian election wide open when he announced his intention to run for president. Barghouti’s decision, conveyed to Fatah leaders through his lawyer, risked a major split within the movement whose leaders have already given their backing to Palestine Liberation Organization chief Mahmoud Abbas.

The news emerged hours before the umbrella Fatah Revolutionary Council rubberstamped moderate former Prime Minister Abbas as the official candidate for the election.

Other members of Fatah’s Higher Committee, which is still officially headed by Barghouti, confirmed that the jailed leader had decided to run.

The traditionally conservative Fatah Central Committee, which is the organization’s most senior body, decided Tuesday that69 -year-old Abbas should be its candidate to replace Yasser Arafat.

The Higher Committee, however, is dominated by supporters of the45 -year-old Barghouti who is seen as the inspiration behind the intifada.

As the Revolutionary Council, which brings together both wings of Fatah, stuck with Abbas as its choice, Barghouti will likely run as an independent.

Abbas, who took over the PLO after Arafat’s death on Nov.11 , lacks Barghouti’s strong popular power base, but he is favored as a future peacemaker by Israel and the United States. Palestinian observers say Barghouti stands a good chance of winning the ballot, drawing support from mainstream voters as well as Islamists who oppose Abbas’ call to end the uprising.

Barghouti’s bid to succeed Arafat could also bring international pressure on Israel to free the West Bank Fatah leader it jailed in June for five life terms over the killings of Israelis by militants.

Israeli President Moshe Katsav, who would have the ultimate say on whether Barghouti should be pardoned and freed, did not rule out such a possibility in an interview published yesterday.

“If he applies for a pardon, I will discuss it,” Katsav told the Maariv daily.

During a visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories on Monday, US Secretary of State Colin Powell called the issue complex.

Treading where Powell did not go, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw laid a wreath yesterday at Arafat’s West Bank grave and said talks with new Palestinian leaders gave him optimism about a revival of Middle East peacemaking.

— Additional input from agencies§ion=0&article=55095&d=26&m=11&y=2004