And a murderer is poised to replace him. Tiny Minority of Extremists Update from the TimesOnline, with thanks to JE:
A SURGE in support for the Islamic fundamentalist group Hamas in the run-up to Wednesday”s parliamentary elections is fuelling calls for Mahmoud Abbas, the 70-year-old Palestinian president, to step down after the vote.
Dissatisfaction is growing in the ranks of Abbas”s Fatah party at his lacklustre performance since he was elected leader last January. Polls yesterday showed Hamas had closed the gap with Fatah and was trailing only 42%-45%, making the final result too close to call.
Even if Fatah manages to hold its lead, Hamas will be guaranteed a role in the Palestinian parliament for the first time and may be part of the next government. “Abbas has failed and we want him out of the job,” said a young Fatah leader. Members of the 60,000 strong Palestinian security forces began voting yesterday.
Many of the president’s critics would like to see Abbas replaced by Marwan Barghouti, 48, who has emerged as leader of a faction known as the Young Guard. He directs it from a high security prison cell in Israel’s Negev desert where he is serving five life sentences for murder.
Barghouti heads Fatah’s national list of candidates, making his own election a certainty. His inability to attend parliament has not stopped him calling Palestinians from the jail, urging them to back Fatah.