by Saud Abu Ramadan
BETHLEHEM, West Bank, Aug. 12 (Xinhua) -- On the
ninth day of Fatah party congress held in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, the
secular party of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday began the vote
count for the election of its Revolutionary Council after delays.
The ballot count for the Revolutionary Council, its
legislative body, was delayed for about 30 hours, and came a day after the
semi-official results of the Fatah Central Committee election were announced.
The reformists won a majority in the committee, the executive body of Fatah.
Monir Salama, the sixth Fatah congress executive
director, told Xinhua that the reason behind the delay of the vote count "was
not done in purpose, but because preparing for the process itself was difficult
and complicated and needs more time and more efforts."
Salama expected that the votes count to elect 80 new
members for the Fatah parliament will go smoothly, but will take at least 30
hours, adding "as soon as we finish the process of votes counting, we will
announce the results in an official statement probably on Friday evening."
All together 617 candidates are
running for 80 seats available in the Revolutionary Council.
Palestinian President Mahoud Abbas arrives at the
Fatah convention hall in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, Wednesday, Aug.
12, 2009. Unofficial results indicate that the mainstream Palestinian
movement Fatah has elected a rejuvenated leadership that will likely bring
it more into line with President Barack Obama's vision for an
Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement.The voting for Fatah's two main
decision-making bodies, the Central Committee and the larger Revolutionary
Council, was the highlight of the first convention held in two decades by
the movement founded by the late Yasser Arafat.
Earlier on Wednesday, 11 senior Fatah leaders in the
Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip announced their resignation to protest the results
of Fatah internal elections. Among the 18 elected to the 23-member of the
Central Committee, only two are from Gaza.
Ahmed Nasser, a member of the higher committee of
Fatah in the Gaza Strip, said he and his 10 colleagues resigned because the
internal elections were "unfair and unclear."
However, Zahareya el-Agha, a central committee member
who belongs to the Fatah old guard, told a news conference in Gaza on Wednesday
that the resignation of the 11 members in the Gaza Strip" is made according to
Fatah law and has nothing to do with the results of the recent elections."
"The higher committee is congratulating President Abu
Mazen and the new elected central committee members for the confidence they
received from the congress members. We put our resignation in the hands of the
new leadership to do what it sees is proper," said el-Agha.
But Nasser, who has failed in the central committee
election, told Xinhua that "during the elections, our votes had gone to other
people and some candidates had been elected twice," referring to manipulation
Some 400 Fatah members to the party's congress were
prevented by Hamas security forces, which control the Gaza Strip, from traveling
to Bethlehem to attend the congress.
Nasser said Fatah's decision to go ahead with the
conference despite the absence of the Gaza-based members "has infringed the Gaza
members' right of voting."
"There are some people who controlled the movement
and abducted it," Nasser said, refusing to reveal the names of the Fatah
officials that he accused. Some of the Fatah delegates in Gaza were able to vote
over their cellular phones or via e-mails.
Meanwhile, senior Gaza Fatah leader Ibrahim Abu
el-Najja said in a statement faxed to journalists that the Gaza Fatah higher
committee appealed to President Abbas, also chairman of the congress and chief
of the committee, to observe the elections "to consider those who were deprived
"No one had contacted or called any of Gaza congress
members and they were not even given the opportunity to practice their right of
voting like their colleagues," said Abu el-Najja, adding that "some of those who
were not able to vote are members of the congress preparatory committee."
During the congress debates on finding a mechanism
for banned Gaza congress members to join the electoral process, it was proposed
that Gaza gets one-third share in the central committee and the revolutionary
council. However, the proposal was rejected by West Bank members.
Fatah kicked off its long-awaited congress on Aug. 4,
the first in 20 years since the movement held its fifth conference in Tunis in
1989. It is also the first one held on Palestinian territories.