Fatah to expel controversial strongman Dahlan

RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories, June 12, 2011 (AFP) - The central committee of the Fatah party led Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas has voted to expel strongman Mohammed Dahlan, a Fatah official said on Sunday.

A committee member, speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity, said the movement was expelling Dahlan over allegations of corruption and murder, and recommending his case be referred to the attorney general.

"The Fatah central committee decided to expel the central committee member Mohammed Dahlan from the movement on charges of financial corruption and murder," the official said, without giving further details.

The decision came after an internal Fatah inquiry into allegations against the former strongman, and the committee voted to expel him with 13 voting in favour, six abstaining and no votes against, the official said.

The decision must now be approved by a two-thirds majority of Fatah's revolutionary council.

"The central committee decided to transfer Dahlan's file, which includes corruption and crimes mentioned in the inquiry commission's report... to the appropriate authorities," the official said.

The body also voted to authorise the committee that investigated Dahlan to extend their inquiry to include individuals with ties to him.

Dahlan, a former minister of internal security and ex-chief of the Gaza Strip's once powerful security force, was once a leading figure in the mainstream Fatah movement.

He is known for his fierce opposition to the Islamist movement Hamas which now rules Gaza.

Dahlan led a merciless crackdown on the group in the 1990s, rounding up thousands of Islamists who refused to recognise the legitimacy of the newly created Palestinian Authority.

Once considered a US protege, Dahlan fell from grace after the humiliating rout of his forces by Hamas fighters in June 2007 in Gaza. But he returned to the political stage in August 2009 when he was elected to Fatah's central committee.

In December, however, the Fatah central committee announced it had suspended Dahlan while a commission of inquiry examined his finances and claims he tried to set up a personal militia.

In April, the Palestinian mission in Algeria condemned an "assassination attempt" against ambassador Hocine Abdelkhalek, accusing Dahlan of having instigated the attack by three men armed with knives and sticks.

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