Abbas sacks Hamas mayor of Qalqilya in West Bank

Abbas's government sacked a West Bank town's Hamas mayor on Saturday allegedly charging financial mismanagement.

Abbas sacks Hamas mayor of Qalqilya in West Bank

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's government sacked a West Bank town's Hamas mayor on Saturday allegedly charging financial mismanagement.

Khaled al-Qawasmeh, the Palestinian minister of local government, told Reuters the mayor of Qalqilya, Wajih Qawas, and his 15-member council had been replaced by a loyalist of Abbas's secular Fatah faction until new local elections could be held.

Qawasmeh charged the town's debt had more than quadrupled since Qawas was elected in 2005, from 17 million shekels to a current 75 million shekels ($4.5 million to $20 million).

"The municipality did not respond to our repeated warnings to rectify their financial condition. The decision was based on administrative grounds," Qawasmeh said.

Abbas government has already has many financial problems because of Israeli siege and it has demaned help from donors.

Qawas, of Islamist Hamas, said he had been fired by Abbas's Western-backed government for political reasons as he had also made improvements in the Palestinian city that borders on central Israel.

"We are elected by the people and we should stay until a new election is held," Qawas told Reuters by telephone.

Hamas has controlled about 60 Palestinian local authorities in the occupied West Bank, since a municipal election in 2005.

Abbas delayed new local elections, angering Hamas movement.

Delegations from Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas's Fatah party and the Islamist Hamas movement that controls Gaza held several rounds of unity talks under Egyptian mediation.

Hamas won a parliamentary election in January 2006, ending a near-monopoly on power by the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and its dominant faction, Fatah. The government Hamas formed was subject to a crippling boycott by Western aid donors, leading to a unity government between Hamas and Fatah in 2007.

Egypt has mediated a series of talks aimed at healing a rift seen as threatening to weaken a Palestinian bid for statehood, with the Palestinians politically split between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, and Hamas refusing to recognise Israel.

Palestinian officials said on Thursday that Egypt had lately proposed a new delay in presidential and legislative elections meant to have been held in January, to allow more time for reconciliation talks.

Reuters
Last Mod: 13 Eylül 2009, 12:38
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