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The official lists of candidates running for the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) were published yesterday.

Marwan Barghouti, serving life imprisonment in Israel, had his name struck off the Fatah list after making it clear to Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas that he would head the Al-Mustaqbal (Future) party, hastily formed last week.

Mohammed Abu Ali, a Palestinian serving a life sentence in an Israeli prison, will head the Fatah party list instead with Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia as his No. 2.

Al-Mustaqbal's list was drawn up by Fatah activists, most of them former prisoners, who were born in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Mohammed Dahlan and Jibril Rajoub join Barghouti on the list. They objected to Fatah's initial list, which was compiled by the party's executive committee last week, calling it unrepresentative of the primary results, public opinion polls, and prioritizing old-fashioned Tunisian imports over native leaders.

Consequently, within a few hours, the West Bank activists established the new offshoot of the Fatah party. After ascertaining that Dahlan, PA Prisoner Affairs Minister Sufyan Abu Zaydeh and Samir Mashrawi, from Gaza, would be interested in joining, and that certain Palestinian businesspeople would be willing to finance their election campaign, Al-Mustaqbal began compiling its official candidate list.

Members of Fatah and Al-Mustaqbal insist, however, that there is no rift between the parties and that they have vowed not to compete with one another, but rather concentrate their campaign efforts on defeating Hamas and other militant parties. Some Fatah members, however, doubt their ability to maintain such a promise.

Al-Mustaqbal's candidates will appear only on the national list and will call on their supporters to vote for Fatah candidates in the various voting regions. Sources at Al-Mustaqbal said yesterday that the identity crisis in the Fatah movement was solved when Abbas treated their party as a legitimate outgrowth of Fatah.

Twelve national parties consisting of 343 candidates are contending in the PLC elections, which will be based on a regional and national system.