Hamas is seeking to elect the Islamist movement's Gaza-based prime minister to lead its political bureau, the Ashaq al-Awsat website reported on Monday, citing "informed sources."
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Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh would reportedly replace Khaled Meshal, currently based in Qatar, after elections expected to occur at the end of the year. Meshal's term has ended and he is barred from a third consecutive term, the report said.
"According to the sources, Haniyeh is looking to settle soon with members of his family in the Qatari capital, Doha, as a sign of his preparation to assume power," the report said, adding that "Haniyeh was elected vice-president of Hamas political bureau during the last elections held secretly by the movement in Egypt in 2012."
The report quoted a source as explaining: “There is almost an agreement inside the leadership of the political bureau that the two expected candidates running for the presidency of Hamas would withdraw and therefore, allow Haniyeh to chair the movement.”
Hamas officials were reportedly working with the leadership of Egypt, which shares a border with the Gaza Strip, to allow Haniyeh to leave Gaza en route to Saudi Arabia and then on to Qatar. The German dpa news agency has reported that Haniyeh has already left the strip.