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Palestinian primaries in southern Gaza bolster ruling party''s young guards - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) – The ruling Fatah Party”s young guard received another boost in primary elections in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah, edging aside holdovers from the corruption-tainted era of Yasser Arafat.

Fatah faces a stiff challenge in Jan. 25 parliamentary from Hamas militants campaigning on a clean-government platform. Victories by a younger generation of Fatah activists in a succession of primaries had been expected to put the party in a better light among voters, but those gains could be compromised by the disarray and violence that have marred the voting, analysts say.

Final results released late Saturday in Rafah showed younger Fatah activists winning three of six contested seats. The other three went to candidates who were affiliated with Arafat”s regime, but are sympathetic to the young guard.

One of the winners was Majid Abu Shamale, a top ally of Mohammed Dahlan, a leading Fatah official in Gaza.

Fatah has been holding primaries for the first time under pressure from the party”s younger generation, which wants powerful spots long closed to them by Arafat, who led the movement for four decades before his death last year.

Infighting has hobbled the voting, however, with some districts in the West Bank and Gaza canceling results. The internal disputes are likely to mean that Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas will play a bigger role in selecting the final list of candidates.