Hamas confirms Meshaal won’t seek re-election as head of movement

Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal won't seek re-election, said the Palestinian Islamic militant group in a statement Saturday.

The move opens the group to a leadership struggle, as it is not immediately clear who could succeed the charismatic, widely respected Mashaal.

It contributes to political turbulence within Hamas, which has recently faced a slew of criticism for continuing to be based in Damascus as the Syrian government violently cracks down on demonstrators throughout the country.

In the statement from Hamas' official e-mail account, the Palestinian group urged him to reconsider his decision, saying the issue of who leads the decades-old militant movement should be left to Hamas. The group says the decision shouldn't be made by one person, even its leader.

"The movement urges [Mashaal] to reconsider, and to leave this issue to the Shura Council, with full respect to his wishes [not to run again], considering this is a public matter that the Hamas institutions should decide, and not an individual person," the statement said. The Shura Council is the top-level body in Hamas that elects its leadership.

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