Who is a really unique leader for Palestine?

A top Palestinian official said Saturday he would dismantle an elite security unit accused of abuse and corruption in a first step toward overhauling the tangled network of Palestinian security forces.

Palestinian Preventive Security chief Brig. Gen. Rashid Abu Shbak also announced plans to merge the ruling &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/hotspots/2001/08/27/13488.html ' target=_blank>Fatah party's myriad militant groups to make them more accountable for their actions and to end the gun chaos on Palestinian streets.

The United States has long demanded a major overhaul of the Palestinian security services, including disbanding many of the rival - and in some cases warring - forces, but faced stiff resistance from &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/world/20/91/366/14554_.html ' target=_blank>Yasser Arafat, who used the forces to maintain his hold on power, wrote the Guardian.

According to the News24, new PLO chief &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/main/2003/05/30/47677.html ' target=_blank>Mahmud Abbas emerged on Saturday as the clear frontrunner to replace Yasser Arafat after jailed West Bank Fatah leader Marwan Barghuti vowed not to run in January's presidential election.

Barghuti's decision, taken in his Israeli prison cell and announced late on Friday, headed off a potentially destructive rift in the Palestinian dominant Fatah movement, leaving Abbas as the top candidate in the poll due in six weeks.

Abbas, 69, is favoured as a future peacemaker by Israel and the US. His defeat could deal a blow to any international effort to revive violence-stalled peace efforts.

Al-Barghuthi is a founder of the Palestinian National Initiative, which he formed with a group of intellectuals in 2002 to spur democratic reform and better social services, informs Al-Jazeera.

Speculation had been rife that the charismatic Barghuti, serving five life sentences for murder, would formally announce his decision to stand -- posing a direct challenge to Abbas.

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