Hamas rejects extended term for Abbas

Palestinian group Hamas has warned that it won't recognize Mahmoud Abbas as president after Jan. 2009, when his four-year term expires following an advisory body ruling that Abbas can extend his term. (G. Auda reports from Jerusalem).


Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, whose mandate was scheduled to end by January 2009, will stay on another year until January 2010, following a ruling by a special judiciary panel in Ramallah over the weekend.


“We know that Mahmoud Abbas won’t be running for another presidential term after he finishes this one so we can assume that the move was made to give more time to his party, Fatah, to find a credible candidate,” says Guillaume Auda, France 24’s correspondent in Jerusalem. Abbas’ most likely successor, Fatah cadre Marwan Barghouti, has been in jail in Israel since 2002.


The rival Hamas movement, which took control over the Gaza strip in June 2007, was quick to denounce the move. A Hamas spokesperson warned that the movement would not recognize the Abbas presidency past January 2009.


Abbas declared in May that he was ready to negotiate with Hamas and that if the talks succeeded, he would call for new presidential and parliamentary elections. But there’s been precious little progress since then.


Abbas’ Fatah movement is running out of time, Auda said. “Abbas knows that no deal can be cemented with Israel as long as Gaza remains under Hamas control.”

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