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Friday, 9 January 2009

Hamas: Abbas No Longer Heads PA

Zionist Collaborator
According to Israeli media, Abbas's aides said he has no plans to step down in the near future, claiming that the PA's Basic Law allows him to stay in power for another year. PA Prime Minister Salaam Fayad told reporters on Thursday that the law calls for holding presidential and legislative elections simultaneously. And since the legislative elections are due to be held in January 2010, Abbas is entitled to stay in office for an additional year, he explained.

Abbas was elected in January 2005 to a four-year term.

Hamas officials said that as of Friday they would not recognize Abbas's status as president of the PA. But they also made it clear that they would not demand his resignation for now "because of the war" in the Gaza Strip.

However, Hamas and some Palestinian legal experts have openly challenged Abbas's right to remain in power after the expiration of his term. "Thursday was Abbas's last day in office," said Osama Hamdan, the Hamas representative in Lebanon. "Our position on this issue is clear: Abbas's term in office has expired."

Mushir al-Masri, a spokesman for Hamas in the Gaza Strip, said Abbas would lose credibility because of his refusal to step down. "He doesn't have the right to speak on behalf of the people," he said. "He's in power only because the Israelis and the Americans want him to stay."

According to the Palestinian constitution, the speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council is supposed to serve as acting PA president for a period of 60 days, after which presidential elections are to be held.

The current speaker of the Hamas-dominated PLC, Abdel Aziz Dweik, is serving a 36-month sentence in an Israeli jail. His deputy, Ahmed Bahar, also a senior Hamas official, is based in the Gaza Strip.