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Abbas mulls early elections
by Al Jazeera (reposted)
Saturday Dec 9th, 2006 10:25 AM
Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, will dismiss the Hamas-led government and call early elections if he fails to form a new unity government, officials have said.
But Hamas officials have immediately condemned the move and claimed Abbas had no authority to call new elections. It called the decision "a clear coup against democracy".

PLO officials said Abbas announced his decision at a meeting of the grouup's powerful executive committee and plans to deliver a formal nationwide speech next week."

The formation of the Hamas-led government brought economic sanctions by Israel and Western aid donors.

Abbas urged Hamas to join Fatah in a unity coalition in order to get the sanctions lifted. But the talks deadlocked over the division of cabinet portfolios and the issue of recognising Israel.

Talks on forming a unity government broke down last month.

'Intense discussion'

"We had an intense discussion on various options, and from what we heard, he is leaning toward going back to the people with a call for early presidential and legislative elections," Saeb Erekat, a senior Palestinian aide, said.