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Abbas steps down as PLO chief to force new elections

AFP

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas resigned Saturday as head of the Palestine Liberation Organisation's Executive Committee in a bid to force new elections for the top body, an official said.

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Wassel Abu Yussef said that more than half of the 18-member committee had also stepped down.

"The resignation of the president of the executive committee Mahmud Abbas and more than half of its members has created a legal vacuum, and therefore the Palestine National Council has been asked to meet in one month to elect a new executive committee," Yussef told AFP.

Yussef added, however, that the resignations will take effect only when the PNC meets.

The PNC, or Palestinian parliament, has 740 members who live in the Palestinian territories and in the diaspora. It has not met in nearly 20 years.

The executive committee is the PLO's highest decision-making body and acts on behalf of Palestinians in the occupied territories and the diaspora, namely in the peace process with Israel.

In 1993, Abbas, then executive committee secretary general, signed the Oslo autonomy accords on behalf of the Palestinians.

Yussef said that before the resignations were announced, the executive committee elected chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat as its secretary general.

That move came after Abbas suspended another key member, Yasser Abed Rabbo, as secretary general.

It was not immediately clear why Abed Rabbo, a veteran PLO figure, had been sidelined.

(AFP)

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