Dozens of masked Palestinian gunmen took over election offices in the Gaza town of Khan Younis, on Wednesday, in an attempt to prevent the ruling Fateh party from registering a new list of candidates for the January 2006 parliamentary elections, witnesses and officials said.
This move came in protest to the registration of a new Fateh list topped by the jailed leader Marwan Barghouthi, and includes both Prime Minister Ahmad Qorei and Cabinet minister Nabil Shaath.
The gunmen – who are loyal to Barghouthi – are demanding the two old-time politicians, Qorei and Shaath, be forced to run in a district election.
Meanwhile, the “Young guard” of Fateh movement said that by including Qorei and Shaath on the list, President Abbas is violating an agreement the movement reached with the young guard earlier requiring such old-time politicians to campaign in their districts.
The split in Fateh raised fears that it could cause losing the elections to Hamas, Abbas reached a deal to reunites Fateh, but last minutes changes of the candidates list brought the movement back to the same conflict which threatens to split it.
Gunmen in Gaza and some West Bank areas repeatedly take over government buildings and election offices, and demanded the Palestinian Authority to provide them with jobs, in addition to demanding changes to election policies ahead of a January 2006 legislative elections.
The Internal conflict in Fateh movement led to a split between its young guard led by the jailed leader, Barghouthi, and the old guard of the movement. Later on the movement was reunited under one list headed by Barghouthi.