Caretaker PM Fayyad calls for Palestinian elections

AFP , Wednesday 17 Apr 2013

In his first address after his resignation, caretaker prime minister Salam Fayyad calls for general elections in Gaza and the West Bank

Caretaker prime minister Salam Fayyad, in his first public comments since he resigned, called on Wednesday for a general election to rebuild the Palestinian political system.

The Palestinians "need ... a general election, as the only way to rebuild our political system and achieve our national goals," he said in his weekly radio address as premier.

Fayyad, who resigned on Saturday, was a bone of contention between president Mahmud Abbas's Fatah party, which dominates the West Bank, and its bitter rival the Islamist Hamas movement, which governs the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian officials say Fayyad has been asked to stay on in a caretaker role until a new premier can be appointed.

Hamas never recognised his authority, continuing instead to recognise its own prime minister, Ismail Haniya. It has long insisted that naming a consensus premier would be key to reuniting the Palestinians.

"Just as there is no state without Jerusalem as its eternal capital, there is no state without the Gaza Strip, a part that cannot be partitioned from it," Fayyad said.

He said his departure did not mean he would no longer "defend our people's case and their fundamental rights of freedom and dignity."

The Palestinian elections commission said Friday it was "ready to carry out elections if the order is issued by the presidency," after releasing the results of what it called a successful drive to register more voters in the West Bank and Gaza.

More than 1.86 million Palestinians, or 82.1 percent of the electorate, are now registered, it said.

Fatah and Hamas signed a reconciliation deal in Cairo in 2011, pledging to set up an interim consensus government of independents that would pave the way for legislative and presidential elections within 12 months.

But implementation of the accord has stalled over the make-up of the interim government.

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