RAMALLAH Ñ Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas has
begun replacing security commanders loyal to Yasser Arafat.
Palestinian sources said Abbas has replaced 15 commanders in the PA
civilian police. They said the dismissed commanders had served in the West
Bank and Gaza Strip and were all loyal to Arafat, chairman of the PA.
The most senior appointment by Abbas, who also serves as interior
minister, was that of Mahmoud Asfour as head of the PA civil police. Asfour
replaced Salim Bardini, an Arafat appointee.
As interior minister, Abbas is responsible for two of the PA's 13
security agencies. They are the police and the Preventive Security
Abbas is also responsible for PA Civil Defense and has appointed a new
head of the agency. The new chief will command fire and emergency services.
Palestinian sources said the move by Abbas has angered Arafat. They said
the PA chairman has insisted that he will appoint the governors of regions
in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
"It's a big blow to Arafat's ego," a PA source said. "What's worse is
that there are 15 senior police commanders and their families who are
complaining to Arafat that they no longer have jobs."