New Palestinian cabinet to be sworn in Wednesday (AFP) AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE) 05/16/12)
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A reshuffled Palestinian cabinet in the West Bank is to be sworn in
on Wednesday, Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said.
"We will be forming a new Palestinian government this evening," Abbas
said at a conference of Arab athletes on Wednesday afternoon.
The new government has been on the cards since the previous cabinet
resigned in February 2011, shortly after the Palestinian leadership
announced it would hold legislative and presidential elections "in
the coming months."
Abbas had tasked prime minister Salam Fayyad with forming a new
government, but the process was put on ice after the surprise April
announcement of a reconciliation deal between Abbas´s Fatah movement
and its Islamist rival Hamas.
The agreement called for the creation of an interim cabinet of
independents selected by the two factions which would prepare for
elections that were rescheduled to happen by May 2012.
But the deal has largely stalled, leaving the revamped government on
hold and elections indefinitely postponed.
"If we have an agreement with Hamas tomorrow or afterwards, this
government will not have any role," Abbas said on Wednesday.
"But I can´t wait forever. A number of ministers have resigned from
the current government, and the administrative situation has
paralysed it, which forced me to announce this (new) government."
Palestinian labour minister Ahmad Majdalani told AFP the government
would be sworn in at Abbas´s office at 6:00 pm (1500 GMT).
According to a source in Fayyad´s office, seven new ministers will
take up the portfolios covering health, tourism, national economy,
justice, agriculture, transportation and telecommunications.
Although the new ministers have been chosen, the source said it was
possible there could be changes before the swearing in ceremony.
Majdalani confirmed there would be seven new ministers in what will
be the 14th Palestinian cabinet.
Like Abbas, he said the move to replace the old cabinet instead of
bringing in the interim cabinet called for by the unity deal was a
not a sign that the reconciliation process had collapsed.
"No, we still hope that the reconciliation will happen. But we need
to reshuffle the government to deal with the population´s everyday
life," he said.
But Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, reacted angrily to news of
the new cabinet.
"This strengthens the division," Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum told
"This government was built on corruption, and was not the choice of
the Palestinian people and was not approved by the legislative
Barhum said the move "shows clearly to all that the Palestinian
Authority and Fatah are far from the implementation" of the unity
agreement. (Copyright © 2012 Agence France Presse. 05/16/12)
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