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Fatah: Abbas will head unity government

Jan. 18, 2013 7:53 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 22, 2013 3:39 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- President and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas will head a unity government to be formed by Jan. 30, a Fatah official said Friday.

Yahya Rabah told Ma'an the new government would be comprised of technocrats and dignitaries not affiliated to any political party. It will serve for an interim period to supervise parliamentary and presidential elections and oversee administrative procedures, Rabah said.

Abbas and Hamas chief Khalid Mashaal agreed to set a timetable to implement their parties' reconciliation deal during a recent meeting in Cairo, Rabah said, adding that they set a Jan. 30 deadline for forming the unity government.

Fatah leader Azzam al-Ahmad told Ma'an on Thursday that Abbas and Mashaal agreed a set of principles during the meeting, stipulating that the Central Elections Commission, public freedoms committee and social reconciliation committee would resume work by the end of January.

The parties also agreed to stop issuing negative press releases about each other, and to form another committee to oversee implementation of the reconciliation deal, al-Ahmad said.

Hamas and Fatah agreed to form the interim government in May 2010 as part of their unity agreement signed in Cairo, but the deal has yet to be implemented. Factional infighting split Palestine into separate governments in Gaza and the West Bank in 2007. National elections and parliamentary approval of legislation have been on hold ever since.

In February 2011, Abbas and Mashaal met in Doha and agreed the president would head the new cabinet, but the proposal for Abbas' premiership caused uproar in Hamas ranks.

Other political leaders also expressed concern that a dual role for the president would breach the separation of powers, but the high court ruled that the Doha agreement did not fall under its jurisdiction.

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