Candidates in the race
SEVEN Palestinian presidential candidates are vying to succeed Yasser Arafat in Sunday’s election. Here are brief portraits:
Mahmoud Abbas: The overwhelming favourite was a long-time deputy to Arafat and became head of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) after the veteran leader’s death. US-favoured Abbas, 69, opposes armed struggle and wants to revive talks with Israel. He is unlikely to deviate from Arafat’s stands on key issues.
Mustafa Barghouthi: A human rights activist and campaigner for non-violence who was ejected from the communist People’s Party of Palestine in 2002. A leading figure in civil society, the 50-year-old doctor was involved in peace talks early in the 1990s but left in protest before interim accords with Israel in 1993.
Abdel-Halim Al-Ashkar: US-based professor who was arrested in northern Virginia last year and accused of funnelling money to Hamas Islamic militants, obstruction of justice and contempt of court. Ashkar, 46, has been awaiting trial under house arrest.
Taiseer Khalid: Founder member of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, formed on Marxist principles. He is also a member of the PLO’s executive committee. Khaled, 69, was detained by Israel for several months in 2003.
Sayyed Hussein Barakeh: An Islamist academic who was deported to Lebanon by Israel in 1989, accused of being an Islamic Jihad leader. He returned from exile in 1998. Barakeh, 48, resigned as the top official at the youth and sport ministry to contest the election.
Bassam Al-Salhi: The communist People’s Party of Palestine was the first group within the PLO to support the idea of a state alongside Israel. Salhi, 44, favours civil resistance rather than armed struggle.
Abdel-Kareem Shbair: A lawyer and academic from the Gaza Strip who focuses on the right of return to homes in Israel for Palestinian refugees. Shbair, 54, has compiled a 23-volume archive of all Israel’s military orders in Gaza since occupation in 1967. reuters