Khaled Meshaal re-elected as leader of Hamas

Cairo, April 2 (IANS) Hamas’ Shura council, the highest decision-making body of the Islamic Palestinian militant group, has decided in Cairo to grant a new term to its current leader Khaled Meshaal, official news agency MENA reported.

It is Meshaal’s fourth term as the chief of Hamas.

The process of Hamas’ internal elections is nearly secret. Elections are held among people living in the Palestinian territories, and then among Hamas supporters and members in Israeli jails and Hamas’ people in exile.

Meshaal, 56, has been leading the political bureau of Hamas since 1996. Last year, he indicated that he would not run for another term. But sources told Xinhua that Qatar, Egypt and Turkey were appealing for Meshaal to stay on, saying it is not the proper time for him to step down.

The pressure on Mashaal to stay mounted after he made a landmark visit to the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by his own movement, in December 2012.

Early last year, Meshaal abandoned his long-time base in Syria’ s capital of Damascus, avoiding pressure from the Syrian authorities to side himself with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Since then, he has been staying mainly in Qatar’s Doha.

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