Abbas Swears in New Government

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RAMALLAH, West Bank - Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas made good on his promise to swear in a new government, headed by his Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, on Tuesday.

The ceremony took place at the PA government's Mukatah compound in Ramallah.

Both Fatah and Hamas factions rejected the new government, as did the PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine) and the Palestinian People's Party.

"Fatah is strongly opposed to this government because we were not consulted about the makeup," one member said. "This is an illegitimate government, and Fatah won't vote in favor of it in parliament," he said.

Despite the boycott, 10 Fatah members accepted ministerial posts in the new government, which is made up of 24 ministers, including the prime minister, who will also serve as finance minister.

Azzam al-Ahmed, head of Fatah's parliamentary list, said members who joined the new government acted on their own.

Hamas officials in the Gaza Strip said Abbas effectively issued a "death certificate" to Egyptian-mediated negotiations aimed at reconciling the two rival factions and forming a unity government.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said Abbas's latest decision reflected Fatah's "political, legal and constitutional chaos" meant to "deliberately sabotage" the parties' "national reconciliation."

Hamas legislator Salah Bardaweel said the new government did not represent the Palestinian people.

"Any government must be approved by a majority of the Palestinian Legislative council, and this is what the Fayyad government is lacking," Bardaweel said.

Fayyad has been serving as prime minister since June 2007, when Abbas dissolved the short-lived unity government with Hamas and formed an emergency government.

The decision followed a weeklong military coup by Hamas, when it wrested control of the Gaza Strip from the PA's Fatah forces.

Source: The Jerusalem Post

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