London, Asharq Al-Awsat – The elections for the Hamas Consultative Council and Shura Council have been completed, leaving only the election of the Hamas Political Bureau, as well as the Political Bureau leadership. These elections are held every 4 years, and are expected to be completed within the next 10 days.
Leading Hamas figure Ahmed Yousef informed Asharq Al-Awsat that current Political Bureau chief Khalid Mishal is most likely to remain in this post, which he has occupied since 1996. Mishal succeeded Mousa Abu Marzook as Hamas chief after Abu Marzook was forced to resign after being arrested in New York in 1995.
Ahmed Yousef, who is a senior adviser to Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, revealed that the elections ended last week, and their results will remain secret.
Responding to a report published by the Israeli Haaretz newspaper that Haniyeh won a majority of the votes but that Mishal would remain as Hamas chief, although he would no longer be in charge of the military budget, leading Hamas figure Salah al-Bardawil said “this is a form of Zionist delusion which does not merit discussion…this is pure fabrication whose sole aim is to entice Hamas to respond and reveal its cards to the media. We stress that the Hamas elections are secret, and we comprehensively reject any interference in this issue” adding “we are under occupation.”
Yousef informed Asharq Al-Awsat that Hamas has completed its Consultative Council and Shura Council elections, revealing that local Consultative Councils are selected, who in turn vote for the Hamas Shura Council, which ultimately elects the movement’s administrative leadership, the Hamas Political Bureau. Yousef refused to reveal the number of members on the Hamas Political Bureau, as well as the number of Hamas members elected to the local Consultative Council and Shura Council, stressing these are part of the Palestinian movement’s secrets and cannot be revealed.
The senior Hamas adviser, who is known for his bold statements, also told Asharq Al-Awsat that Mishal is most likely to be re-elected as Hamas Political Bureau chief, although he is facing competition from his rival and deputy Mousa Abu Marzook. Yousef stressed that the election of the Hamas Political Bureau will take place during a Hamas Shura Council meeting that will be held soon, but refused to reveal precisely where or when this will take place.
The Hamas Shura Council met in January in the Sudanese capital Khartoum. During this meeting, Mishal announced that he did not want to seek re-election as Hamas Political Bureau chief; however his request was reportedly rejected by the Hamas Shura Council who insisted he should remain in this post for another term. Sudan was subject to international pressure for hosting the Hamas Shura Council meeting and Khartoum rejected a Hamas request to hold a second Shura Council meeting on Sudanese territory. The last Hamas Shura Council meeting was held in Cairo in late March, in order to arrange the precise details of the elections.
Well-informed sources expect the first session of the new Hamas Shura Council to be held either in Cairo or Doha. Mousa Abu Marzook has chosen Cairo as a base, whilst Mishal has set himself up in Doha, after Hamas left Damascus following the recent developments in Syria.