Leadership announces Sept. election plan; P.M. will stay for new government
RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories (AFP) ― Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad will tender his government’s resignation to president Mahmud Abbas on Monday morning, a senior official told AFP on Sunday.
Abbas will immediately ask Fayyad to form a new government, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity, and the premier would immediately begin talks on doing so.
The Palestinian president had already made known his intention to reshuffle the government headed by Fayyad, an independent. He had also said the 58-year-old would be asked to stay on in the post he has occupied since 2007.
The official said consultations on forming a new government had been delayed by the popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, which are allies of the Palestinian Authority.
In an interview with The Washington Post on Sunday, Fayyad said he was confident of Egypt’s future support for the PA, despite the political changes there that resulted in the departure Friday of president Hosni Mubarak.
“Why would I presume that Egypt in the aftermath of this movement is going to be any less supportive?” he asked. “Egyptian people are very supportive of the Palestinian people.”
On Saturday, the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank announced plans to hold elections by September, running into immediate opposition from its Islamist Hamas rivals in the Gaza Strip.
The Palestine Liberation Organization executive committee’s call for presidential and legislative polls came amid stalemate in Israeli-Palestinian talks and the political upheaval in Egypt, a key player in peace efforts.
Hamas had already killed off a PA plan to hold a Palestinian general election in January 2010.
The Islamist movement scored a surprise triumph in a legislative election in 2006 and seized control of the Gaza enclave in June 2007, ousting Fatah in a week of deadly street fighting.
The PLO, which groups the main Palestinian nationalist movements but not Hamas, has since 2004 been led by Abbas, whose mandate as president expired in January 2009 but was extended until new polls to avoid a political vacuum.
“The executive committee has decided to start preparations for presidential and parliamentary elections in the coming months ... no later than September,” the PLO’s Yasser Abed Rabbo told journalists Saturday.
Hamas immediately rejected the latest elections plan. “This procedure is invalid because president Abbas has no legitimacy and is not fit to organise such elections,” Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum said.
Abbas’ government last week also called local elections for July 9, the first Palestinian vote since 2006. But the Hamas rulers of Gaza vowed to ignore that decision, limiting the poll to the West Bank.