Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah Party and its allies won student elections at Palestine Polytechnic University in the West Bank city of Hebron on Monday, wresting control of the council from the Islamic Hamas group for the first time in 15 years. The surprise victory came just two months after Hamas' crushed Fatah in national parliamentary elections. Elections in Palestinian universities are a bellwether for the national mood and the rare defeat for Hamas could signal a weakening of the militant group's overall popularity.
Fatah won 15 seats in the vote and its allies in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine won one seat, giving it control of the 31-member council. Hamas won 15 seats in the vote. After the results were announced, Fatah activists exploded in cheers and began hugging each other and shooting rifles in the air.
Kefeh Ewaewy, a Fatah activist who helped run the student campaign, said the party had learned its lesson from the national vote and made sure to work hard and stay united. "The result is the reform of Fatah," he said, reports the AP.
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