Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (C) attends the Fatah Central Committee meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah Jan. 8, 2011. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman/File Photo
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Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah party holds its first congress since 2009 Tuesday as the 81-year-old leader seeks to close ranks and fend off a key rival.Talk of who will eventually succeed Abbas as Palestinian president has intensified, with the ageing leader not having publicly designated a successor.It is to include elections for Fatah's 23-member central committee – in which Abbas serves as president – and its 132-member revolutionary council, considered Fatah's parliament.The 1,400 Fatah officials invited to attend the congress are to vote for 18 members of the central committee and 80 seats on the revolutionary council, while the rest are to be nominated.Political analyst Abdel Majid Abu Sweilam says that, beyond staving off Abbas's rivals, the congress also aims to reinforce Fatah's hold within the institutions of the Palestinian Authority.
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