Fateh ruling party decided to postpone its first ever primaries scheduled to start Friday saying that the movement not ready to run the poll citing internal dissent and extortion attempts by violent activists.
This delay is not expected to affect the timing of legislative elections, scheduled by the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, for Jan. 25, 2006, Palestinian officials said.
Ahmed Diek, coordinator of the Fateh elections committee, said that 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 leaders, he added.
“We have decided to ask the Fateh leadership to pick candidates (for the parliamentary poll) in districts where primaries cannot be held in time”
465 candidates had registered in the West Bank, competing on the territory’s 80 parliamentary seats, “registration continued in Gaza”, Diek added.
Fateh’s young leaders demanded that primaries should be held to elect new leaders into the party and restore confidence in it ahead of the elections.
Fateh is expected to face very strong challenge by Hamas in the elections; Hamas showed strong presence during the municipal lections which were conducted in May, and September 2005.
It is worth mentioning that municipal elections in Hebron were postponed earlier this week; the P.A said that it will schedule a new date for the elections later on.
Palestinian legislator Qaddoura Fares, and a Fateh member, said he fears that if the movement selects some of its candidates, the Fatah “Old guards” will attempt to keep new young leaders out, which could split the movement.