Yahya Sinwar has won a second term as Hamas’s leader in the Gaza Strip, after being first elected in 2017.
Sinwar’s main challenger, Nizar Awadallah, conceded defeat on Wednesday after multiple rounds of voting. Though initial reports indicated that Awadallah had won the election, a Hamas spokesperson later confirmed that Sinwar had been re-elected until 2025.
The election was conducted in a “transparent, competitive and democratic manner”, according to Hamas.
Around 320 members of the Hamas Shura Council are eligible to vote in the election, which is usually held under secretive conditions.
Sinwar spent decades in an Israeli prison after being convicted in 1989 of carrying out the kidnapping and murder of two Israeli soldiers. He was released as part of the 2011 Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange between Israel and Hamas, which his opponent Nizar Awadallah helped to negotiate.
Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas has ordered the first Palestinian national elections in more than 15 years, with elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council set to be held on 22nd May, for the presidency of the PA on 31st July, and for the Palestinian National Council on 31st August.