Hamas, Fatah Rivalry Continues

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CBNNews.com - GAZA STRIP - On January 9, when Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas's term ends, Hamas will no longer recognize him as president.

"We will remove his pictures from all public institutions," one Gaza-based Hamas official told Jerusalem Post Palestinian Affairs correspondent Khaled Abu Toameh.

"Until now, our policy has been not to challenge Abbas's legitimacy as the elected leader of the Palestinian Authority," he said.

Abbas, who has vacillated over the past year between retiring from when his term expires to extending his tenure another year, decided he's staying.

The Fatah-controlled Ministry of Justice agreed to extend the PA president's term to coincide with parliamentary elections.

"If he wants to seek another term in office, he should run in new elections. By announcing he will stay in power for another year, Abbas is acting in violation of the Palestinian Basic Law," the Hamas official said.

According to Abbas, the Palestinian Legislative council amended the law in January 2005, allowing presidential and parliamentary elections to be held concurrently. But Hamas says the Ministry of Justice's decision is a "flagrant violation of the Palestinian Basic Law," which stipulates a four-year term.

In January, Hamas plans to name senior Hamas official Ahmed Bahr, acting speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, as interim president.

"Abbas would not be able to remain in office after January," Bahr said. "If he wants, he can run in the new elections. But in the meantime, I will be filling in for him," he said.

Meanwhile, Abbas's tenure will be one of the subjects discussed in early October in Cairo, when delegations from both Palestinian factions meet again.

Egyptian mediators have been working to end the standoff between the Fatah and Hamas, which has been exacerbated by the disagreement over Abbas's tenure as president.

Source: The Jerusalem Post

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