The exiled leader of the Palestinian movement Hamas, Khaled Meshaal, will not stand for another term, Hamas said on Saturday, setting the stage for a struggle for his succession. "Khaled Meshaal, head of political bureau, told the Advisory Board Hamas' about his desire not to run for leadership of the movement in the future, "said Hamas, in a statement.
Meshaal has been leading the political wing of Hamas since 1996. According to Hamas sources, the upcoming elections for the leadership of the political bureau should be held in July or August. Among the possible candidates to succeed Meshaal, 55, his deputy Moussa Abu Marzouk, the head of the Hamas government in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh and Mahmoud Zahar, one of the most influential leaders of the movement in Gaza.
Hamas leaders have asked Meshaal to change his decision to leave the post, the statement said.
Meanwhile, Haniyeh said on Saturday Hamas accepted the return of 80 Fatah activists who fled the Palestinian enclave following the coup in June 2007. Hamas and Fatah were in an open conflict since the Islamist movement, which won the parliamentary elections of 2006, ousted the latter from Gaza.