Jailed Palestinian leader Marwan al-Barghouthi has decided to run for Palestinian president, reversing his earlier decision to stay out of the race.
Barghouthi’s candidacy was submitted shortly before a deadline on Wednesday night. Barghouthi, the most popular choice among Palestinians to succeed Arafat, told his wife during a prison visit that he wanted to run in the election as an independent candidate.
“I am running in this democratic battle … to achieve peace on the basis of justice, freedom, the return of Palestinian refugees, and freedom for our prisoners,” al-Barghuthi said in a statement read by his wife.
He called for a fair election campaign.
Palestinian officials originally said last Thursday that al-Barghuthi had decided not to run. After he came under pressure from Fatah officials worried about a split in their movement, he opted on Friday to drop his candidacy.
I remember in the last days of the leader Yasser Arafat, I was thinking about what would happen after his death and how there is no one to be that unifying figure, no one who is that popular, no one to step into Arafat’s shoes.
No one but Marwan Barghouthi, I thought.
He’s the only person who could unite Palestinians, the only one who could make them listen, the only one they all love and respect.
Ten candidates will be running in this presidential race. I think the right choice for Palestinian president would certainly be Marwan Barghouthi.