BEIRUT: Senior Fatah Movement official Brig. Gen. Mahmoud Issa, also known as Lino, denied Sunday reports that the movement had stripped him of his rank and expelled him.
“Contrary to what has been reported by the media,” Issa told The Daily Star, “I was not informed of any formal decision of this nature, not oral or written.”
Reports published said a decision to expel Lino had been reached, despite the assurances he made earlier proclaiming his loyalty to the Palestine Liberation Organization, which includes Fatah and is headed by President Mahmoud Abbas.
Palestinian sources had told The Daily Star earlier that the Military Committee within the Fatah Movement had demoted Lino from brigadier general to a soldier before expelling him.
But Issa said the reports were false.
“They called me from Palestine and assured me that no such decision had been taken,” he said.
“What was said [in the reports] was untrue,” he added.
Issa speculated that sources who disseminated the false news were seeking to cause disturbances.
Asked about his stance should a decision to expel him be made, he said: “I would act accordingly.”
Ties between Lino and the party’s leadership deteriorated in September after a group of Fatah officers, under the name Fatah’s Correction Movement and allegedly led by Lino, criticized what they called endemic corruption in the movement.
The general said that there were contacts ongoing to mediate on his behalf to ease the tensions with the Fatah administration.
“We expect things to be clearer in the next 24 hours,” he said, but maintained that he “will not compromise on the issue of reform [within Fatah].”
“I have no objections with Abu Mazen [President Abbas], but the Fatah Movement has been abandoned, and the administration is falling apart,” he said.
Unfair decisions were made against several fighters, Issa alleged.
“All that I have done is make a call for reform, so according to them I am now a rebel,” he said.
He reiterated that he was loyal to Abbas, the Fatah Command and its senior officials.
“But, I still have my own opinions and I express them.”
Asked if his supporters would stage protests in the event of his expulsion he said he opposed them.
“I talked to the popular committees in several neighborhoods when I was informed that there were plans to organize protests,” he said, adding, “I am against such protests.”
On Sunday, dozens of Lino’s supporters participated in a protest in the Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp. Palestinian delegations also visited him to express their solidarity.