Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party has stripped a senior official of his membership after he announced he would run on his own electoral list, in the latest sign of internal turmoil ahead of elections planned for later this year.
Nasser al-Kidwa, the 67-year-old nephew of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, had announced he would form his own list consisting of independents, business people and youth. He previously served as Palestinian foreign minister and representative to the United Nations.
He had long been seen as a possible successor to the 85-year-old Abbas, and held talks with the popular jailed Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti about possibly joining his list. In the end, Barghouti, who is serving five life sentences in an Israeli prison after a military court convicted him of terrorism charges during the 2000-2005 uprising, declined to endorse al-Kidwa.