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Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party looks set to split into two – or possibly three – rival slates in this summer’s planned parliamentary elections, the Haaretz newspaper reported this week. Nasser al-Kidwa, the nephew of Yasser Arafat and a former PLO ambassador to the United Nations, confirmed publicly that plans are afoot for the Palestinian president’s (pictured) internal Fatah critics to run independently in the elections which are scheduled for22 May. The deadline for lists to be submitted is 31 March. Kidwa, a member of the Fatah Central Committee but a critic of Abbas’ authoritarian approach, says told a symposium at Bir Zeit University last week that he hopes the slate will attract independent activists and members of left-wing parties, as well as Fatah dissidents. He also called for the jailed Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti not to “flee from responsibility” but to back the slate. Barghouti, who is serving five life sentences in an Israeli prison for terrorist murders carried out during the Second Intifada, is reportedly planning to challenge Abbas in the presidential elections due at the end of July. However, he appears to be hesitating at backing a break-away Fatah slate in the parliamentary poll. He is instead insisting, according to allies, that if the “democratic process” is respected in assembling it, he will back a united Fatah slate. Allies of Mohammed Dahlan, a close Abbas ally exiled by the president a decade ago, are also thought to be planning their own slate. Jordanian and Egyptian intelligence officials are said to have urged Abbas to heal the rift with Dahlan to ensure that Fatah’s vote is not split in the contest with terror group Hamas. Read full article