PA Premier dissolves cabinet as Arab unrest rings alarm bells

Harinder Mishra

Jerusalem, Feb 14 (PTI) Apparently alarmed by thepolitical unrest gripping the Arab world, PalestinianAuthority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad dissolved his cabinetafter an emergency meeting today.

The cabinet met a short while before the announcementto discuss a possible reshuffle, or even resignation.

Fayyad, an economist backed by the West, hopes toform a new Cabinet dominated by technocrats in about a monthand a half.

The decision is the latest in a series of dramaticmoves made by the West-backed PA, whose authority is limitedto the West Bank, as mass protests have spurred calls fordemocracy throughout the region.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas announced that he hadaccepted Fayyad''s decision.

The move seems to be designed at staving off anyEgypt-inspired efforts to oust the current leadership comes asa pro-democracy wave has swept the middle eastern region eversince the Tunisians drove out the autocratic regime of Zin ElAbidine Ben Ali.

The new cabinet would be entrusted with theresponsibility of building and strengthening Palestinianinstitutions, PA sources said.

The West Bank leadership has also announced that itwould hold the long-overdue municipal elections by September.

Islamist Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip after itvanquished forces loyal to the PA in June 2007, has decided toboycott the polls if it is not preceded by reconciliationamong various Palestinian factions.

Presidential elections were due in January 2009 andparliamentary elections in 2010, but the PA has failed toconduct the same due to its lack of control over the GazaStrip.

Hamas, which has refused to recognise Israel despiteinternational pressure, won the 2006 parliamentary poll in alandslide victory, a year after Abbas won the Presidentialelections in a direct contest boycotted by the rival Islamistmovement.

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