Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (C) attends the Fatah Central Committee meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah January 8, 2011. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman
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Palestinian politics hasn't seen much change in the past 10 years – President Mahmoud Abbas has been in power since 2004 and the last parliamentary elections were a decade ago. But next week, Fatah, the dominant force in Palestinian politics for half a century, will hold its first party congress in seven years and is expected to shake up its central committee, foreshadowing longer-term political changes.While Abbas, who is 81 and has received medical treatment in recent weeks, will remain in power at the top of Fatah and the umbrella movement, the Palestine Liberation Organization, the congress is likely to lead to the appointment of a clear No. 2 in the party and a potential leader-in-waiting.Instead, Palestinian officials and Fatah leaders say, the Ramallah gathering, which starts on Nov. 29 and will last for three or four days, will cement Abbas' position at the top while electing around half a dozen new names to the 21-member committee that sets the party's agenda.The most important decision will come in the days after the congress, when the new central committee meets to elect from among its members a deputy to Abbas in the party.
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