PLO elects Abbas as president of future Palestinian state

November 24th, 2008 - 5:46 am ICT by IANS  

Ramallah, Nov 24 (DPA) Members of the central council of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Sunday night elected Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas as the president of the future state of Palestine.Around 126 members of the PLO central council convened in the West Bank city of Ramallah for two days to discuss the current internal Palestinian situation.

An independent Palestinian state has not yet been established and the move was seen as an attempt to bolster Abbas, who earlier declared at the opening ceremony of the council that if rivals Fatah and Islamic Hamas fail to reconcile, he intends to call for early elections by the beginning of January next year.

The Palestinian leadership has been divided with the Gaza Strip ruled by Hamas since June last year, and the PA and Fatah controlling parts of the West Bank.

Hamas slammed the PLO central council decision to choose Abbas as the president of the state of Palestine, saying that the PLO is not relevant and does not represent all the Palestinians.

Musheer al-Masri, a Hamas lawmaker, said in a statement that the decision aims at extending the presidential term for Abbas which “according to the Palestinian basic law, ends by Jan 9, 2009.”

“Such actions would complicate the current internal situation and would increase the obstacles that challenge holding the national dialogue and to reach a national Palestinian reconciliation,” said al-Masri.

The Palestinian National Council (PNC), the parliament in exile, had elected in November 1988 late leader Yasser Arafat as the president of state of Palestine. Arafat also served as the president of the PA and the chairman of the PLO.

After Arafat died in November 2004, Abbas was elected as the PLO Executive Committee chairman and in January 2005 he was elected as the president of the Palestinian Authority.

Israel imposes a tight blockade on the Gaza Strip and occupies large areas in the West Bank, while dozens of Jewish settlements and the separation wall in the West Bank were built.

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