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The New Arab Staff

Majority of Palestinians want Marwan Barghouti as president: poll

A mural of jailed Marwan Barghouti [Getty]

Date of publication: 31 March, 2021

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Jailed activist Marwan Barghouti is the top choice for president among Palestinians.

Jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti is expected to receive the most votes if he runs for Palestinian president, according to the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research.

Khalil Shikaki, director of the research centre, said that the survey asked participants to choose their preferred presidential candidate in the election with Barghouti coming top of the list with 22 percent.

The next popular candidate was Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh who scored at 14 percent, with current President Mahmoud Abbas further down the list at nine percent. Last in line was deposed leader Mohammed Dahlan, with just seven percent of responses.

Palestinian Authority officials say Dahlan is forbidden from standing as a candidate in the election due to his previous conviction by a Palestinian court in 2014.

In the scenario of Barghouti leading an independent electoral list, and Fatah and Hamas each having their own candidates, the legislative election turnout is expected to stand at around 79 percent, the poll found.

Turnout at the upcoming general election is expected to be 78 percent, according to the poll.

Shikaki stressed that Barghouti would win presidential elections unless both Fatah and Hamas stand together against him.

However, Hamas on Tuesday unveiled its "Jerusalem Is Our Promise" candidates list for upcoming elections, ending speculation that a joint list would be formed with Fatah.

It still unclear whether Barghouti will himself run for presidential elections on 31 May, but various opinion polls have him beating rival Mahmoud Abbas decisively.

Read also: Is a Barghouti presidency the best hope for a free Palestine?

Fatah has tried to lure the revolutionary-spirited Barghouti back to the party's core in recent months.

In February, Palestinian Authority Civil Affairs Minister Hussien Al-Sheikh visited the jailed leader in prison in a bid to dissuade him from challenging Abbas in either presidential or parliamentary elections.

Senior Fatah officials have threatened to expel any member of the faction who runs on a separate list, including Yasser Arafat’s nephew Nasser Al-Qudwa. It is unlikely this will happen to Barghouti, who enjoys hero status among the Palestinian public.

Sources told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, The New Arab's Arabic language site, on Wednesday that Barghouti and Al-Qudwa will be running for the legislative elections on a joint list.

Palestinian factions have until midnight Wednesday to submit their list of candidates for the 132-member Palestinian Legislative Council.

Officials with the electoral commission said 15 factions had submitted lists as of Monday. Five have been approved while the rest were being examined.

The approved lists are to be unveiled on 6 April and the campaigning period will run from 30 April to 20 May.

Palestine will head to the polls for the first time in 15 years this summer. The legislative elections will take place for 22 May and a presidential vote on 31 July.

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