Hamas’s Gaza prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, delegated his powers to his deputy Ziyad El-Zaza on Tuesday, according to an AFP report that said the announcement was made in a speech Haniyeh gave at a ceremony honouring former ministers in the Gaza Strip.
Ahram Online reporter in Gaza Saleh El-Naami said that Haniyeh would still be the official prime minister, but that he had chosen to give up most of his authority to focus on the Hamas movement's internal reform portfolio.
Haniyeh was appointed prime minister in 2006. According to Palestinian authority law, only the president has the power to appoint a new prime minister.
Earlier reports claimed that Haniyeh is seeking to run in the Hamas political office, to replace Khaled Meshal as the chairman of the executive committee. However, sources in Gaza have told Ahram Online that there is strong internal opposition to Haniyeh’s plan to replace Meshal.
During his speech, Haniyeh said: "This is the first experience for an Islamist movement to spread with this level of success."
"That government faced a hurricane and a political, economic and military battle as the outcome of elections was not recognised, a blockade was imposed on the government, and war was waged to topple the government," he said.
The Hamas leader reiterated that he is focusing on strengthening the movement, and that Hamas has survived several internal and external attempts to remove it from power, done largely out of fear that its successful example might spread across the region.
"The political rifts present in our society were largely a creation and are out of our hands; we aim to resolve them in order to ensure the unity and well-being of the Palestinian people," he added.