Hamas secret internal elections see limited changes
News Date: 23rd April 2012
The newest secret internal elections in Islamic Hamas movement, held this month in the Gaza Strip, had resulted in limited changes to the structure of its leadership, which kept most of the movement's prominent leaders in their posts, well-informed Hamas sources said Sunday.
The sources who spoke on condition of anonymity told Xinhua that Hamas leader Ismail Heneya, the premier of Hamas government which rules the Gaza Strip, had earned 85 percent of the votes, the highest score ever. Two other leaders, who were freed in the latest prisoners swap deal with Israel last year, had also won.
The sources said that the internal secret elections in Hamas movement were typical as "it only witnessed slight changes in the leading structure of the movement" in the Gaza Strip.
The unexpected results showed that Emad Alami, the Hamas leader who came from Syria, was also a winner. Alami was a member of Hamas politburo in Damascus, and returned to settle in Gaza two months ago.
Haneya's deputy Zeyad Zaza also won in the Hamas internal elections, while Mohamed Awad, a political aide to Haneya and another moderate aide Ahmed Yousef, didn't win in the elections.
Hamas movement, which was founded in late 1987, usually holds its internal elections secretly. Elections are held in four separate geographical areas, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, among Hamas prisoners in Israeli jails and in the Diaspora, or exile.
The internal elections were first held in the Gaza Strip, and would be secretly held in the other three areas soon to choose a highest council by the Shoura Council. It is not clear how many members the Shoura Council (Hamas internal parliament) or the politburo have. Those who have the right to vote represent 30 percent of Hamas leadership.
The sources said that the elections are the top secret of the movement, and the members who vote and those who are elected are prohibited to make statements to the media or reveal any details about the elections, the mechanisms and who are the members of the Shoura Council or Hamas politburo.
However, the sources said that the mosques in the Gaza Strip had witnessed over the past couple of weeks intensive movement, where Hamas leaders have been holding private sessions and meetings in the mosques, apparently to prepare for the voting and for electing new leadership.
Holding secret elections of Hamas movement at this specific time is worth noting. It is the first time that Hamas holds the elections after the unrest in various Arab countries, mainly in Tunisia and Egypt, where the Muslim Brotherhood achieved a big victory.
Hamas is also holding its secret internal elections after the movement had reached a prisoners swap deal with Israel through Egypt. Israel released more than 1,000 prisoners for the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit last October. The elections are also held amid severe differences among the leaders.
Contrary to other factions and Palestinian organizations, Hamas holds its elections secretly and it is hard to know all the members of the Shoura Council or the politburo unless they are publically known, such as Khaled Meshaal, Musa Abu Marzooq, Ismail Haneya and many others.
The sources in Hamas movement believe that the movement's Shoura Council would decide to keep Meshaal as the chief of the movement and the head of its politburo. Meshaal has become so popular in the Arab and Islamic world and has an influence on the Brotherhood movement.
However, Meshaal, who announced several months ago that he may not run again for the post, is expected to resign soon and wait for the new internal elections to see if he will be elected again or not. Meshaal has been the chief of Hamas politburo for eight years.
Hamas leaders, who are friendly with Meshaal, had advised him to keep his post as the movement's chief. Meshaal will wait for the Shoura Council to decide, while officials in the movement had earlier said that Hamas institutions is the only body that usually decides.
Haneya and Abu Marzooq are the best candidates to succeed Meshaal in case the Shoura Council decides not to assign him or elect him as the chief of the movement. Late last year, Hamas held a meeting of its Shoura Council members in Cairo.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met in Cairo with all Hamas politburo members right after he signed with Meshaal in Qatar's capital Doha the reconciliation agreement. Abbas is waiting for new development in the peace process and Hamas waits for the results of the elections to push forward the reconciliation.