August 8, 2009 / 1:32 PM / 10 years ago

Fatah endorses Abbas as party leader

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attends a Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) executive committee meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah July 18, 2009. REUTERS/Fadi Arouri

BETHLEHEM, West Bank (Reuters) - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas received firm endorsement from his Fatah party on Saturday to remain its leader in an impromptu vote in which he was unchallenged.

Abbas received the approval in a show of hands from the vast majority of Fatah’s 2,300 delegates participating in the movement’s first congress for 20 years and the first on Palestinian soil.

Abbas succeeded the late Fatah founding father Yasser Arafat who led the movement for 40 years until his death in 2004.

Fatah is seeking to throw off a reputation for corruption and cronyism that led in 2006 to an election loss to Islamist rival Hamas which opposes peace talks with Israel.

The congress in Bethlehem began on Tuesday and has been marked by reformists’ charges of vote-buying and nepotism by an “old guard.”

Reporting by Mohammed Assadi, writing by Ori Lewis in Jerusalem; Editing by Robert Woodward

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