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Who´s president of Palestine? (JERUSALEM POST) By KHALED ABU TOAMEH RAMALLAH 05/15/05)Source: http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1116123542901 JERUSALEM POST JERUSALEM POST Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
The PLO executive committee´s recent decision to declare Mahmoud Abbas as President of the State of Palestine has enraged veteran PLO leader Farouk Kaddoumi, who has dismissed the move as illegal and unacceptable.

Kaddoumi, who is based in Tunis, said in a message he sent to many PLO and Fatah leaders in the West Bank and Gaza Strip that the executive committee did not have the authority to relay the powers of the president to Abbas after the death of Yasser Arafat. He said that only the Palestine National Council (the PLO´s parliament-in-exile) was entitled to make such a decision.

The Palestine National Council, which met in Algiers in 1988, elected Arafat as President of the State of Palestine and Kaddoumi, who serves as head of the PLO´s political department, as foreign minister.

Kaddoumi noted that the Algiers conference had also announced the establishment of a Palestinian state in exile. "How can a state exist in exile while its president is located inside the occupied territories?" he asked. "This is in violation of our internal regulations."

Kaddoumi expressed fear that the decision was aimed at expanding Abbas´s power over all PLO and PA institutions. "Why are we placing all powers in the hands of one man?" he asked. "Many Palestinians are opposed to such a move."

PA officials said the latest decision came in the wake of reports that Kaddoumi was planning to declare himself as president in his capacity as one of Arafat´s deputies in the PLO. They said Kaddoumi has been inciting against Abbas ever since he was elected as PA chairman in January. Moreover,they accused Kaddoumi of standing behind growing demands to launch an investigation into the circumstances surrounding Arafat´s death.

Kaddoumi has insisted over the past few months that Arafat died of poisoning, hinting that senior officials in Ramallah may have been involved in a plot to eliminate the Palestinian leader.

Kaddoumi also accused Abbas of scuttling his efforts to convene the Fatah central committee in the Jordanian capital of Amman, saying the PA chairman was afraid that participants would criticize his performance.

Kaddoumi, who replaced Arafat as chairman of the Fatah central committee, has been trying unsuccessfully to hold a meeting of the ruling party´s members in Amman to discuss the latest developments on the Palestinian arena. The Jordanian government, at the behest of Abbas, has refused to allow the meeting.

A Fatah official here said the Jordanian authorities had also asked Kaddoumi to stay away from the kingdom because of his persistent efforts to undermine Abbas. "The Jordanians are not happy with the campaign that Kaddoumi is waging against President Abbas," he said.

A senior aid to Abbas told The Jerusalem Post that Kaddoumi was trying to discredit Abbas by inciting against him. He claimed that Kadoumi was apparently receiving funds from Iran and some Arab countries.

Kaddoumi lashed out at Abbas for appointing Arafat´s nephew, Nasser al-Kidwa, as foreign minister of the PA and pointed out that he had not been informed of the decision in advance.

"I´ve been the foreign minister of Palestine for 30 years. He was appointed without my knowledge," he complained. "This is also in violation of the decisions taken by the Palestine National Council."

Earlier this month Abbas further infuriated Kaddoumi by summoning Palestinian ambassadors to a meeting in Ramallah to discuss major reforms in the corruption-tainted PA diplomatic corps.

Kaddoumi added that Arafat and the PLO executive committee had repeatedly ignored his demands to get rid of some of the ambassadors involved in corruption scandals under the pretext that the envoys were also serving as "revolutionaries" abroad. He said some of the ambassadors should stand trial for their alleged involvement in embezzlement, but refused to elaborate.

The tensions between Kaddoumi and Abbas have worried many Fatah leaders, who say the row is likely to have a negative impact on the party ahead of the upcoming elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council. (© 1995-2005, The Jerusalem Post 05/15/05)

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