Ma'an News Agency
December 7, 2011 - 1:00am

RAMALLAH -- Senior Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmad said Wednesday that a unity government must be formed before elections can be held.

During a meeting in Cairo on Nov. 24, Fatah leader and President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas chief Khalid Mashaal approved a two-page document saying they would establish a joint government after elections in May 2012.

But on Wednesday, al-Ahmad told Voice of Palestine radio: "It is illegal to run elections while we have two governments."

Al-Azzam, who heads the Fatah delegation for reconciliation, blamed Hamas officials in the Gaza Strip for the confusion.

"There is a trend within Hamas, namely in the Gaza Strip, which deliberately muddle reconciliation efforts by making negative remarks different from what the movement’s leadership in exile says."

Al-Ahmad said the formation of a unity government would be discussed at a summit of Palestinian factions in Cairo on Dec. 20, adding that Abbas and Mashaal would hold further talks on a joint government in a meeting scheduled to take place in the Egyptian capital after the summit.

Abbas met Mashaal, who leads Hamas from exile in Damascus, last month to cement a unity deal signed in May to end years of division between the parties which had led to the establishment of rival governments in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The implementation of the deal had stalled over a leadership row, after Hamas rejected Abbas' nomination of PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to head the unity government.

Fayyad has called on the parties to appoint a new premier, insisting that he refused to be an obstacle to reconciliation.

He told the Israeli daily Haaretz on Friday: "I cannot accept being an obstacle, never was and never will be ... I made a very explicit call on the factions ... to go ahead and agree on a new prime minister."


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