First Published: 2004-11-11

Fattuh sworn in as acting head of PA

Fattuh is not seen as likely candidate to run for president as he lacks power base within Fatah does not sit on PLO executive committee.


Middle East Online

By Hisham Abdallah - RAMALLAH, West Bank

Fattuh will serve as acting head of the authority for a maximum 60 days

The Palestinian leadership divided up the spoils of Yasser Arafat's power Thursday, naming ex-premier Mahmud Abbas as Palestine Liberation Organisation supremo and senior PLO official Faruq Qaddumi as head of the dominant Fatah faction.

Palestinian parliament speaker Rawhi Fattuh was sworn in as acting head of the Palestinian Authority after the death of veteran leader Yasser Arafat. Current prime minister Ahmed Qorei, 67, is to remain in his post.

All of the institutions had been headed by Arafat, the veteran leader who has dominated Palestinian political life for the best part of a half a century.

While Abbas's appointment was widely expected, the Tunis-based Qaddumi's promotion was a major surprise.

He rejected the Oslo peace accords which ushered in the Palestinian Authority and did not return from exile in 1994 with the rest of the leadership, including Arafat, Abbas and Qorei.

Fattuh has been formally installed as caretaker Palestinian Authority leader.

Under the terms of the Palestinian mini constitution, or basic law, Fattuh will serve as acting head of the authority for a maximum 60 days until fresh presidential elections are held.

However Fattuh, who was only chosen as speaker in March of this year, is not seen as a likely candidate to run for president as he lacks a power base within Fatah and does not sit on the PLO executive committee.

Arafat's administration has been beset by corruption, incompetence and lawlessness.

The crisis reached its nadir in June when Qorei submitted his resignation after an unprecedented spate of kidnappings in the Gaza Strip. The resignation was later retracted after Arafat refused to accept it.

There have been growing calls for the leadership of the main Palestinian institutions to be divided up, particular from younger members of Fatah who are expected to push for a reformist to run as president.

The Palestinians had planned to hold presidential elections in the spring of next year even before Arafat's health crisis erupted.

However the continued presence of Israeli troops and roadblocks in the occupied territories gives the Palestinian leadership a perfect get-out clause if it wants to delay the elections.

The last and only polls took place in January 1996, following the Oslo autonomy accords between the Palestinians and Israel and the creation of Palestinian Authority in 1994.


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