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Palestine: 80 percent of Palestinians want Mahmoud Abbas to resign, new poll claims

The president of the Palestinian Authority has increasingly come under fire over his crackdown on political dissent
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has been criticised for his crackdown on protesters and arrest of critics (AFP)

A new poll has found that an overwhelming majority of Palestinians want Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas to resign, following his summer crackdown against critics. 

The survey, conducted by the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research (PCPSR), showed that 80 percent of respondents were in favour of Abbas stepping down. 

The PCPSR said it surveyed 1,270 Palestinians face-to-face in the occupied West Bank and besieged Gaza Strip. 

Khalil Shikaki, who has surveyed Palestinian public opinion for more than two decades and heads the PCPSR, said it was the "worst polling" he had ever seen for Abbas - as the PA's popularity has further deteriorated in recent months.

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"He has never been in as bad a position as today," said Shikaki. 

Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen, has headed the PA since the 2005 elections. Though his term as president officially ended in 2009, the PA has not held presidential elections in 16 years.

The poll also found that at least 45 percent of respondents believe Hamas, the de facto ruling party in Gaza since 2007, should lead them, while only 19 percent of those polled supported Abbas' Fatah party to represent them. 

The survey took place amid widespread criticism of 86-year-old Abbas, who called off the first Palestinian elections in over 15 years planned for this year as Fatah appeared to be heading for an embarrassing loss. 

In June, the death of Nizar Banat, an outspoken critic of the PA who died after being beaten by PA security forces during a raid, led to protests against the authority and calls for Abbas to resign. 

The protests were violently repressed by PA forces, who also arrested several West Bank protesters. 

Polling from the PCPSR also found that 63 percent of respondents thought Banat was deliberately killed at the instruction of PA political or security leaders, while 22 percent believed his death was accidental. 

Sixty-three percent of respondents expressed support for the demonstrations that broke out after Banat's death, and 74 percent believed the arrest of demonstrators was a violation of liberties and civil rights, the poll found.