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Arafat forces hand of new prime minister in early test

SPECIAL TO WORLD TRIBUNE.COM
Friday, May 9, 2003

RAMALLAH —Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat has forced Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas to rescind an order that would concentrate security authority in the hands of a key ally.

"Arafat has been very concerned that Abu Mazen [Abbas's nomme de guerre] was seeking to undermine his authority with the encouragement of the United States," a Palestinian source said. "But what Abbas is learning is that Arafat has the complete support of Fatah."

Palestinian sources said Arafat forced Abbas to suspend an order issued on Wednesday that would transfer security authority to Security Affairs Minister Mohammed Dahlan. Under the order, Abbas relayed Interior Ministry powers to Dahlan.



Arafat was said to have been angered by Abbas's decision and the chairman and his allies in the ruling Fatah movement exerted heavy pressure on the new prime minister. Palestinian sources said Fatah accused Abbas of trying to undermine the movement's Central Committee decision on the composition of the new Palestinian Cabinet.

Last month, the Central Committee turned down Abbas's effort to appoint Dahlan as interior minister. Instead, the committee allowed Abbas to appoint himself to the post.

Palestinian sources said that on Thursday Abbas rescinded his order to transfer responsibility for the Interior Ministry to Dahlan. The move would have given Dahlan direct control over the Preventive Security Apparatus, police and civil defense forces.

Earlier, Arafat and Fatah prevented the prime minister from naming a leading Palestinian dissident as deputy premier. Arafat stopped Gen. Nasser Yusef, an opponent of the PA chairman who headed Gaza police in the 1990s, from being named to any Cabinet post.

The sources said Arafat has agreed to discuss other arrangements that would help Abbas run the Interior Ministry. They said Arafat has not relayed any specific proposal.

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