Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Sunday he would call for elections in 2009 if his Fatah movement and rivals Hamas do not reconcile by the end of this year. "If the dialogue does not begin, and if we fail, I will issue a presidential decree early next year calling for simultaneous presidential and parliamentary elections," Abbas told members of the Palestine Liberation Organisation.
According to Reuters, he did not name a date. Elections could be held 90 days after his decree.
Hamas said it will not recognise Abbas as president once his four-year term expires, on January 9. It has demanded new presidential elections, but has rejected Abbas' insistence on holding parliamentary elections. Abbas claimed the law gives him the right to stay in power until 2010.
Abbas said Egypt had drafted a reconciliation deal calling for a non-factional government to end the split and prepare for new elections. But Hamas walked from scheduled talks in Cairo earlier this month before they began. "This is not the end of the road. We will pursue our efforts. We will continue," Abbas said in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
Abbas defended himself against accusations by Hamas that he is a puppet of Israel and the United States. "I do not succumb to the Israeli-American veto. I do what is in the interest of the Palestinian people," he said.