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Mahmoud Abbas supported by only 16 percent of Palestinians

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Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas has the support of only 16 percent of Palestinians, according to a survey released on Thursday.

Abbas said on Monday he will not seek re-election as president of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), noting that it was because he wants to make way for other leaders, his advanced age, 80, and feeling tired after 10 years as leader of the Palestinians.

According to a survey taken in August by the Jerusalem Center for Media and Communication, the leader who has the most approval among Palestinians as a possible replacement for Abbas is Marwan Barghouti, with 10.5 percent.

Barghouti has been in an Israeli prison since 2002, where he is serving five life sentences after being convicted of masterminding the murder of five Israelis during the second Intifada (2000-2005), in a case in which he rejected the authority of Israel to judge him.

According to the survey, the second most popular leader, with 9.8 percent, is the prime minister of the Islamist movement Hamas in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, who has ruled Gaza for eight years.

Next is former head of the Preventive Security Force, Mohammed Dahlan, with 5.1 percent, and the chief negotiator Saeb Erekat, with 3.3 percent.

The poor support for the potential leaders reflects the political crisis experienced for years in the West Bank and Gaza, where no elections have been held since 2006.

(IANS/EFE)