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Middle East

Fatah convenes congress amid uncertainty over Palestinian future

After seven years, members of the political party Fatah have come together to steer its future. But some have raised concerns over who will one day succeed Mahmoud Abbas, the party leader and Palestinian president.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah political party on Tuesday opened its first congress since 2009 in a bid to direct the party's future.

As one of the first moves at the convention, Abbas was unanimously re-elected as party leader for a new five-year term.

The five-day meeting in Ramallah is also expected to see the election of members of Fatah's parliament and its central committee, which will largely signal the direction the party is expected to take.

"The system from the 1960s no longer works in 2016," former intelligence chief and Fatah central committee member Jibril Rajoub told AFP news agency.

"We have to take into account the current circumstances. The current system was created when we were in the diaspora, and we are now on national soil. It was put in place at a revolutionary stage. Now we have a state," he added.

Abbas succession in question

While steering the vision of the party is up for discussion during the convention, questions of who will succeed Abbas are expected to be sidelined.

The 81-year-old president of the Palestinian Authority, which runs the Israeli-occupied West Bank, has not signaled that he will be stepping aside. However, a deputy - and potential successor - may be named during the congress.

Abbas is due to speak to some 1,400 delegates on Tuesday evening.

Fatah was created in 1964 in Jerusalem, bringing together the principal Palestinian nationalist movements as the main component of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO).

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ls/tj (AFP, AP, dpa)

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