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Abbas Fatah faction bans former leader from meetings

Former Palestinian Minister of Civil Affairs Mohammed Dahlan is seen in Tel Aviv August 3, 2005. REUTERS/Nir Elias

RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) - The Western-backed Palestinian Fatah faction has banned from meetings a former leader, once considered a possible successor to President Mahmoud Abbas, an official news agency reported Tuesday.

Mohammed Dahlan, for years Fatah’s strong-man in the Gaza Strip, was banned from attending faction meetings, the WAFA news agency reported, saying only that he was being investigated by the group’s highest decision-making body.

Dahlan first fell from grace in 2007 when Hamas Islamists routed Fatah forces to take control of the Gaza Strip. As security chief, Dahlan had been charged with keeping Fatah dominant in the coastal territory.

A senior Fatah official said the investigation revolves around Dahlan’s financial assets and accusations of incitement against Abbas.

Palestinian officials, speaking anonymously, have said Dahlan had publicly spoken poorly of Abbas’s sons and had criticized the Palestinian president, going as far as to call for his replacement.

Dahlan, who could not be reached for comment, was also ousted from his position of commissioner of Fatah media and is being replaced by a long-standing Abbas spokesman.

Prior to the ban, Abbas had ordered security guards to be removed from Dahlan’s office and house in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Since then, Dahlan has spent more time abroad.

Writing by Mohammed Assadi; Editing by Louise Ireland