In the midst of controversy with rivals Hamas, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas plans to hold presidential and legislative elections in April 2009, a newspaper reported. His term ends in January 2009 while the legislative term is valid until January 2010.
Abbas discussed his plans with several Arab leaders, including Syrian President Bashar Al Assad, reported the London-based Al Hayat daily on Tuesday. According to the newspaper, the Palestinian leader provided assurances that he would not seek a second term.
Abbas himself said on Tuesday he will "very soon" schedule Palestinian elections in the absence of reconciliation with Hamas. "We will very soon call presidential and legislative elections within the Palestinian Authority here in the West Bank and in Gaza," Abbas told journalists.
Observers have been claiming that Abbas is no longer able to sustain the presidency as the problem with the Gaza Strip rulers of Hamas is mounting. Al Hayat said that his advanced age (73) is also a factor.
It added that earlier Damascus promoted the idea that the Palestinian elections will be held in August or September, but Abbas put it off until after the new year, considering himself constitutionally and legally bound to remain in office through his term until 2009.