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Fatah gunmen shut down primary vote in central Gaza | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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GAZA (Reuters) -Palestinian gunmen, firing in the air, stormed on Monday into several polling stations in the Gaza Strip where President Mahmoud Abbas”s Fatah party was holding primary elections and forced them to close, witnesses said.

The gunmen, members of Fatah, complained that names of many eligible voters were missing from election lists. They also burned tyres in the streets, the witnesses said about the incidents in the central Gaza Strip. No injuries were reported.

The primaries in Gaza, territory Israel quit in September and which is widely seen as a testing ground for Palestinian statehood, were held days after voters in the occupied West Bank cast aside veteran Fatah politicians in favor of newcomers and militants.

Despite the violence in the central Gaza Strip, the primaries to pick Fatah candidates for parliamentary elections due in January continued in Gaza City and the southern town of Khan Younis.

Voting in Rafah, along the Egyptian border, was postponed until Wednesday. The reason for the delay was not immediately clear.

The Palestinian Authority has been struggling to control the Gaza Strip since Israeli forces withdrew following 38 years of occupation.

A strong primary showing by young Fatah leaders demanding a say in decision-making could help Abbas meet a challenge by the powerful Hamas militant group, taking part in national elections for the first time, analysts said.

But some commentators also say weakening the Fatah old guard that thrived under the late Yasser Arafat risked touching off political infighting that might further fracture the ruling party.