Arafat fights to limit powers of new prime minister

Special to World
Tuesday, March 18, 2003

RAMALLAH Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat has encountered strong opposition from legislators regarding his demand that he approve all ministerial appointments.

By a vote of 49-22, the Palestinian Legislative Council turned down Arafat's request that any Cabinet be "presented" to the PA chairman. It was one of a series of amendments Arafat proposed in an attempt to reduce the authority of any new prime minister.

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Western donor nations have pressed Arafat to appoint a prime minister. Last week, Arafat named PLO Executive Council secretary Mahmoud Abbas to the post.

The PLC has approved the position of prime minister. Since then, Arafat and the PLC have differed over the powers of the premier. PA sources said Arafat has demanded the authority to appoint and dismiss ministers.

The PLC agreed that Arafat would continue to be the leading power in Palestinian politics. The legislature allowed Arafat to retain command of the security forces and in foreign policy, particularly with Israel.

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