Eleven senior leaders from the Gaza Strip have resigned from Fatah’s highest committee in protest at the election process and results of their movement’s top decision-making body.
Ahmed Nasser, a senior Fatah member in Gaza, announced the resignation of the entire 11-member board on Wednesday, protesting that party members from the Strip were under-represented in the newly-elected, 23-member Central Committee.
"The decision to go ahead with the conference, despite the absence of Gaza members, has affected the Gaza members’ voting rights," he told reporters in the Strip.
The resignation only affects the group’s membership in the committee, and they will maintain their membership of the party.
Nasser said that "some people" from Fatah’s leadership in the West Bank had "hijacked" the conference.
Nearly all 18 of the 23 Central Committee seats which were up for election had, according to early results, gone to Fatah delegates from the West Bank.
Only two Fatah delegates from Gaza, Mohammed Dahlan from the central refugee camp of Khan Younis and Nabil Shaath from Gaza City, were confirmed as making it into the party’s powerful Central Committee.
Gaza delegates had demanded at least six posts.
They claimed that voting by about 400 Gaza Fatah delegates during a recent party convention had been unfair, inaccurate and chaotic, with some delegates voting more than once.
The group said they were forced to vote in the party election by phone after the Hamas movement, which has de facto control in the Gaza Strip, refused to allow their departure to attend the conference.
Vote counting in the elections for the Revolutionary Council of the party will take at least three days, due to the large number of candidates and problems with the parallel elections to the Central Committee, election officials said on Wednesday.
A total of 617 candidates are contesting the 80 seats up for grabs in the 120-seat council. The remaining 40 seats will be filled by appointment.
The Revolutionary Council plays a legislative role in Fatah’s leadership.
Vote counting in the elections to the Central Committee was also still continuing after Ahmed Qurea, the former Palestinian prime minister, demanded a recount of some ballot boxes.
Provisional results showed him missing out on a seat on the committee by only two votes.
Qurea, who headed peace talks with Israel last year, is the most prominent member of the Fatah establishment not to be re-elected to the committee, according to the provisional results released on Tuesday.
Only four members of the outgoing Central Committee were re-elected to the 23-member body.
Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, was re-elected Fatah head during a show-of-hands vote at the convention.