Abbas rival accuses president of failing Palestinians
Mohammed Dahlan, a former top Palestinian official exiled in the United Arab Emirates, branded his rival president Mahmoud Abbas a failed leader in an interview Wednesday ahead of Palestinian elections.
Speaking to Saudi Arabia's Al-Arabiya channel, the Gaza-born Dahlan did not announce his candidacy to replace Abbas but voiced his commitment towards the "governing of the Palestinian people".
"Under Abbas's reign, divisions grew stronger and living conditions became deplorable," Dahlan told the channel in an interview conducted in Abu Dhabi, where he is a security adviser to UAE strongman Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.
Abbas, who took power following the death of iconic Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, "failed to do what he promised", Dahlan said.
"All (Abbas) cares about is staying in power, tormenting his opponents and silencing those with opposing views," Dahlan said.
He cited the decision by Fatah, Abbas's movement that controls the Palestinian Authority, to expel Arafat's nephew Nasser Al-Kidwa, after he announced plans to challenge Abbas in the upcoming vote.
The Palestinians have called legislative elections for May 22 and a presidential vote on July 31, their first elections in 15 years.
Abbas and Dahlan were allies when Palestinians last went to the polls.
Dahlan had been Fatah's security chief in Gaza but after the coastal enclave fell to Hamas in 2007 their relationship fractured.
Convicted of corruption by a Palestinian court, Dahlan moved to the UAE a decade ago but has sought to raise his profile in the occupied Palestinian territories in recent months.
He has personally overseen the delivery of the Russian-made Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine into Israeli-blockaded Gaza, describing them as a gift from UAE.
He said his goal is to respond to the desires of the Palestinian people for change.
"Nobody will stop me, even if it is someone important," he told Al-Arabiya.
"I don't mind being controversial. What matters to me is work, success and the governing of the Palestinian people."
The 85-year-old Abbas has not indicated whether he intends to run again.
Fatah, which controls the Israeli-occupied West Bank, and Hamas are long-term rivals but have reached an agreement to hold elections in both Palestinian territories.