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Abbas issues two presidential decrees to disband militias and exempt Gazans from taxes

June 27, 2007 10:17 A.M. (Updated: June 27, 2007 10:17 A.M.)
Ramallah - Ma'an - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas issued two presidential decrees on Tuesday; the first ordering the dissolution of armed militias and the second, the cancellation of taxes for residents of the Gaza Strip.

The first decree states that all forms of militias, military groups or informal military fighters must be disbanded and are to be considered illegal.

It is forbidden for militias or military formations to conduct any secret or unannounced activities, anyone who aids the operation of these groups will be interrogated and subject to punitive measures.

The decree added that the government will strive to end the phenomena of armed groups in general. The government will also implement laws regarding carrying arms and will seize all weapons and explosives which expose the general security forces to danger.

Tax free Gaza

The second decree states that item 88 of the constitution will be suspended in the southern governorates, i.e. the Gaza Strip.

All citizens in the southern governorates will be exempt form fees and taxes in the official departments and establishments.

The exemption excludes goods imported from outside the Palestinian territories and income tax that the public servants pay.

"Dangerous situation"

The spokesperson of the Fatah movement, Ahmad Abdul Rahman, said on Wednesday during a press conference that the presidential decree to disband the armed militias is intended to prevent any "disturbance, rebellion or military coup".

Rahman added that recent events presented Palestinians as terrorists in the world's view.

"President Abbas issued the decree to protect Palestinians from a dangerous situation," said Rahmad. He added, "Regardless of whether the militias belong to Fatah or Hamas, what we need is a clear authority to impose order."

He also said that "the police and national security forces are responsible for the security of the homeland and its citizens," adding "no one has the right to manipulate the law to his own ends.

"Following the decree everything will become clear, Palestinians will witness police on the streets in their official uniforms, their names will be known and they will operate according to the law," said Rahman.

The BBC asked Rahman whether force could be used to implement the decree; he said that the police are permitted to adopt a certain degree of force.
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