Who´s president of Palestine? (JERUSALEM POST) By KHALED ABU TOAMEH RAMALLAH 05/15/05)
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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
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
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
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
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
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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