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Official Fatah results confirm younger leadership

Official results of voting for the main policy-making body of the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement showed only minor changes from the unofficial tally, an official said Wednesday.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Official results of voting for the main policy-making body of the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement showed only minor changes from the unofficial tally, an official said Wednesday.

The main trend of younger, local leaders replacing old-time revolutionaries as the center of power in Fatah was maintained, according the official count announced by election committee head Ahmed Sayad. Voting begin Sunday and extended into Tuesday.

The revamped makeup of the Fatah Central Committee could burnish the movement's image among disillusioned Palestinians and boost chances for an effective role in peace talks with Israel. President Barak Obama's administration is set to present a Mideast peace plan in a few weeks.

Fatah is the main party of the Palestinian Authority, which now effectively rules only the West Bank after the militant Islamic Hamas expelled Fatah forces from Gaza and overran the territory two years ago.

Some internal wangling delayed the official announcement, according to convention insiders. Splits and rivalries plagued the conference from the beginning.

As a result of a tie for last place among the 18 seats up for election for the Central Committee, the second candidate was also allowed into the body. He is Tayeb Abdel Rahim, a longtime Fatah functionary. Abbas appoints four more members of the committee, which will now number 23.

Sayad announced the results in Bethlehem, scene of the first Fatah convention in 20 years.

Younger leaders won 14 of the 19 seats, including Marwan Barghouti, the West Bank Fatah commander serving five life terms in an Israeli prison and deposed Gaza strongman Mohammed Dahlan.

The top vote-getter was an older colleague of the late Yasser Arafat — Mohammed Ghneim, who lives in exile in Tunisia.