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Marwan Barghouti to Run on Independent List in Palestinian Election, Challenging Abbas
Marwan Barghouti, head of the Tanzim faction of Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement, is arrested by Israeli troops in the West Bank town of Ramallah, April 15, 2002. (IDF/Getty Images)

Marwan Barghouti to Run on Independent List in Palestinian Election, Challenging Abbas

Marwan Barghouti, a prominent and popular Fatah leader currently serving five life sentences for murder in an Israeli prison, declared Wednesday that he would run on an independent list in the Palestinian parliamentary election, challenging the Fatah movement’s official list headed by President Mahmoud Abbas.

Nasser al-Kidwa, former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat’s nephew, will run on Barghouti’s list. Al-Kidwa was recently kicked out of Fatah after he declared that he would be running on a separate list.

The parliamentary election is scheduled for May 22, while the presidential election is planned for July 31. It has been suggested that Barghouti’s move is intended to lay the groundwork for his presidential candidacy. A recent poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Research found that Barghouti received significantly more support for the position of president than either Abbas or Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh.

The popular leader’s running is expected to split the Fatah electorate, weakening the movement significantly and possibly paving the way for a Hamas win. Another list comprises supporters of Mohammed Dahlan, a former senior member of the Fatah movement. His list is also likely to weaken Abbas’ list.

Parties could submit applications to enter the race up to March 31. The Palestinian Central Elections Committee said it had accepted 30 lists for the upcoming election. A total of 36 lists were submitted, and the six remaining parties are still being considered.

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