Arafat fails to return to normal duties

Special to World
Thursday, October 9, 2003

RAMALLAH Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat has failed to return to full duties because of what Palestinian sources term a debilitating stomach ailment.

Arafat continues to function only part-time as his aides have cancelled most meetings with officials and visiting dignitaries. The sources said the PA chairman has been unable to return to his full duties despite a clean bill of health from a Jordanian medical team that examined him nearly two weeks ago.

On Wednesday, an Egyptian and Jordanian medical team arrived in Ramallah to examine Arafat. Palestinian sources said the team included a cardiologist and other specialists.

PA officials have denied reports that Arafat suffered a mild heart attack in late September. They said the chairman has been suffering from gastritis, or inflammation of the stomach. As a result, officials said, Arafat suffers from nausea and has hardly eaten for nearly a week.

Arafat, an official said, has lost eight kilograms over the last two weeks. The official said the PA chairman's condition has been exacerbated by anxiety that include fears that he has been targeted for assassination by Israel.

The Jordanian team was summoned on Sept. 29 to run a series of tests on Arafat. The officials said the chairman had been alarmed over his deteriorating condition and suspected that he might have been poisoned.

But the Jordanian physicians, including personal physician Ashraf Kurdi, determined that Arafat was suffering from exhaustion and ordered him to rest for several days. On Sept. 30, Arafat resumed his normal schedule, but within a few days was forced to cut back his meetings.

On Thursday, Arafat postponed plans to win approval by the Palestinian Legislative Council for his new nine-member emergency Cabinet. Palestinian sources said Arafat encountered opposition from the Fatah Central Committee that sought to expand the Cabinet.

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