It had been seven years since the Palestinians' Fatah party held a congress to elect its leader. And today in Ramallah, The Times of Israel reports, Mahmoud Abbas was once again reelected as the party's head, this time to a new five-year term:
Party official and Palestinian National Council chairman Salim Zanoun asked the gathering to elect the 81-year-old Abbas “by consensus.”
The hundreds of delegates stood up and applauded Abbas, who then hugged Zanoun.
Abbas was scheduled to give an address at 6 p.m. to an expected 1,400 delegates.
The election of members of Fatah’s parliament and its central committee, which will begin Friday, will signal the direction the oldest Palestinian party will take at a time when Abbas is weakened by his own unpopularity and internal dissent.
Some analysts see the five-day party congress now underway in Ramallah as an attempt by Abbas to marginalize political opponents, including longtime rival and former ally Mohammad Dahlan, currently in exile in the United Arab Emirates.
While the ageing leader has said he has no intention of stepping aside anytime soon, talk of who will eventually succeed him as Palestinian president has intensified. He has not publicly designated a successor.