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Yahya Sinwar re-elected as Hamas chief in Gaza

Hamas's leader in the Gaza Strip Yahya Al-Sinwar meets with leaders of Palestinian factions, in Gaza city on 18 October 2017 [Atia Darwish/Apaimages]
Hamas's leader in the Gaza Strip Yahya Al-Sinwar in Gaza city on 18 October 2017 [Atia Darwish/Apaimages]

Yahya Sinwar has been re-elected as head of Hamas' political wing in the Gaza Strip for a second four-year term, the movement's spokesman Hazem Qassem said. The former member of the movement's armed wing extended his tenure yesterday following a second round of voting ahead of the Palestinian general elections scheduled for 22 May, the first of their kind in 15 years. A presidential election is also set to take place in the summer.

According to sources reported by Al Quds, Sinwar won 167 out of 280 votes in Gaza's Shura Council and succeeded against four other contenders including one of Hamas' founders, Nizar Awadallah who sought to bring the movement closer with its Muslim Brotherhood roots, while Sinwar is said to have close ties with the exiled Mohammed Dahlan, a former security chief of the rival Fatah party whose stronghold is in the West Bank.

In a statement, chief of Hamas' political bureau, Ismail Haniyeh, congratulated Sinwar on his re-election.

"The movement's commitment to [internal] elections every four years confirms our deep faith in the principle of rotating power," he said.

"Today, the Hamas movement recorded a milestone in its history and is choosing its leaders in Gaza in a way that reflects authenticity and solid legitimacy."

Sinwar led the movement's political wing in Gaza since 2017 and was released from an Israeli jail back in 2011 after 22 years imprisonment as part of a prisoner swap in exchange for the captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

READ: Elections under fire are Palestine's impossible democracy dilemma

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