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Abbas 'will not seek re-election to top PLO and Fatah posts'

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas has told confidants he will not seek re-election to the top posts in the Palestine Liberation Organisation or his Fatah movement in upcoming elections, according to two officials.

Mr Abbas would retain his most important post, as president of the Palestinian self-rule government.

Rumours had been swirling that the 80-year-old plans to step down as president because all roads to Palestinian statehood appear blocked.

The planned election of a new PLO executive committee in mid-September would create a pool of potential Abbas successors and give him a say when the time comes. Critics cast his latest moves as an attempt to sideline opponents.

The officials said that Mr Abbas told the PLO leadership a day earlier about plans to sit out PLO and Fatah elections.

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