Fatah calls Hamas move to weaken Abbas a coup as Fatah boycotts parliament session

Published March 7th, 2006 - 12:18 GMT

Hamas members voted overwhelmingly during the first meeting of the Palestinian Legislative Council on Monday to reverse a decision made during the final session of the previous legislature to grant Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas increased power.


Members of both Hamas and Abbas' Fatah party reportedly began shouting at each other during the meeting, held in the West Bank town of Ramallah, according to Reuters. Fatah legislators then left the premises.


A number of administrative appointments in the Palestinian parliament were also canceled by the Hamas decision.


Relations between the two competing groups have been strained but civil ever
since Hamas claimed victory in January's Palestinian elections.


Hamas won 74 of the 132 seats in Parliament while Fatah held on to only 45.


Despite Hamas' victory, Abbas, who leads the Fatah party, will remain president.


"We have tried through dialogue and contacts with Hamas to resolve this issue, but they are insisting on domination," explained Fatah leader Azzam Al Ahmed.


However, Hamas leader Dr. Mahmoud Al Zahar, replied, "Every time we present an important point, Azzam Al Ahmed stands up and tries to disrupt our work."


A nine-judge constitutional court to be appointed by the president was an especially contentious issue, as Hamas claims that Abbas would be able to veto laws passed by Hamas legislators that he believes to be in violation of the Palestinian Basic Law, which serves as a Palestinian constitution.


Fatah: Hamas move is an attempted coup


The move led some to accuse Hamas of attempting to oust the Palestinian President.


"We see this as a coup attempt to change the regime and they (Hamas) have to seriously reconsider their decisions," said Tayeb Abdel Rahim, an aide to Abbas.


Rahim explained that the move was Hamas' first step towards unseating Abbas and overthrowing the Palestinian Authority.
“We see it as a revolution aimed at overthrowing the Authority. Hamas has to reconsider its step again,” he warned.


Hamas spokesmen, however, denied the accusations.


"Such statements disagree with the clear attitudes of President Abbas, and it's not related to the Presidency headquarters," said Hamas' Sami Abu Zuhri.


Zuhri added that such accusations "unfortunately coincide with a Western and Israeli campaign to get rid of Hamas."


Fatah gunman threaten to kill party leaders who join forces with Hamas


Meanwhile on Tuesday, dozens of the Fatah's Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades gunmen demonstrated in front of the Palestinian Legislative Council building. 


One gunmen said that he would kill every Fatah member who joined a Hamas government.


Tuesday's meeting of the Palestinian Legislative Council began in the absence of Fatah members, who apparently decided to boycott the meeting in light of the disagreements with Hamas.


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