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Friday, August 14, 2009

Trouble in Fatahland

The Fatah conference, that stretched from three days to nine and still has not finished counting the votes for the Revolutionary Council, is still under attack for voting problems.

The Arabs that attended are a lot more skeptical about its success- starting with former "prime minister" Ahmed Qurei:
Qurie, 72-year-old former chief negotiator with Israel, earlier said the Fatah congress election “from the outset ... did not meet the minimum principles of transparency.”

Better known as Abu Ala, he was one of 10 veteran Central Committee members who sought re-election. He was a central committee member for years and worked on organising the long awaited sixth congress, which he chaired at its opening in Bethlehem on Aug. 4.

Critics said Fatah clearly bent its own rules to ensure that another veteran, Abbas aide Tayyeb Abdel-Rahim, got a seat on the executive.

He lost by two votes but after a recount Fatah said he ranked equal with the 18th member on the winners’ list and would duly take his place, while the number of appointed members would be reduced by one to three.

Among irregularities [Qurie] noted were 10 ballot boxes for the Central Committee instead of one; a 24-hour delay in announcing the result; many ballots in the same handwriting; armed security men present while the count was going on.

Qurie said he expected challenges to the results of voting for the parliament of the secular party, the Revolutionary Council, that are to be announced today.

“There will be no trust in the results,” he said.
The National (UAE) summed up the conference this way:

After a week of contentious, sometimes raucous deliberations, Fatah, the foremost Palestinian nationalist movement, has managed to elect a new leadership committee. This is no small feat for an organisation that most Palestinians see as fractious, corrupt and without compass. Indeed, the Sixth General Congress was mired in controversy and infighting that threatened to erode further the credibility of a party arguably on the wane. Senior Fatah officials in exile denounced the very holding of the conference in Bethlehem, in Israeli-occupied Palestine, and alleged that Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of Fatah and chairman of the Palestinian Authority, was merely mounting a power grab by stuffing the audience with obedient followers.

In a sense, they were right.
As usual, Fatah is so pre-occupied with navel gazing and corrupt power grabs that it has no clue how it is fading into irrelevance. The West still holds onto the romanticized image of Fatah as a moderate, practical group that can lead the Palestinian Arabs to peace, ignoring not only the obvious infighting and fissures but also how sick the average Palestinian Arabs are of the corruption and apathy that Fatah has shown for their welfare.

The people are not passionate for Fatah; quite the contrary. Relying on a fractured, faded and irrelevant party whose members cared more about showing up in the proper limousines than in helping the Palestinian Arab people is the West's major mistake in the Middle East.