Palestinian contenders for Fatah posts set to declare candidacy
RAMALLAH - Contenders for key roles in Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah are to declare their candidacy from Friday evening ahead of voting at Saturday's party congress, its spokesman said.
The 1,400 congress delegates are meeting for the first time in seven years at presidential headquarters in Ramallah, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, to elect 80 members of the Fatah Revolutionary Council -- the party's parliament.
Another 40 council members are directly appointed.
The congress will also elect 10 contenders for the Fatah Central Committee, with another four being chosen by Abbas.
The party, founded in 1959, is the backbone of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) with which the international community deals as the representative of all Palestinians.
Palestinian media have named several likely candidates for Fatah posts, but none has so far officially declared an intention to stand.
Formal registration of candidates was opening at 6 pm (16H00 GMT), with voting on Saturday, congress spokesman Mahmoud Abu al-Hija said in a statement.
"The meeting for the elections is set for Saturday morning," he wrote.
Results will be an indicator of the strengths and weaknesses of the various factions in the party, gripped by internal rivalries and with Abbas seeking to quell dissent.
Among them, analysts say, are supporters of longtime rival Mohammed Dahlan, currently in exile in the United Arab Emirates.