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Abbas calls for Palestinian poll
by BBC (reposted)
Saturday Dec 16th, 2006 3:47 PM
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has called for presidential and parliamentary elections to be held at the "earliest opportunity".
He was speaking live on Palestinian TV after days of escalating tensions between Hamas and his Fatah movement that have raised fears of civil war.

Hamas, elected in January, immediately rejected the move as a "coup attempt".

Hours after Mr Abbas spoke, armed supporters of Fatah and Hamas exchanged gunfire in the southern Gaza Strip.

Several gunmen are reported to have been injured in the clash in Khan Younis.

At the end of a major policy speech in Ramallah, Mr Abbas said: "I decided call for early presidential and parliament elections."

He blamed Hamas for the crisis triggered by the suspension of Western aid over the group's refusal to recognise Israel and renounce violence.

by Al Jazeera (reposted)
Saturday Dec 16th, 2006 3:48 PM
At least 18 Palestinians have been wounded in the Gaza Strip after supporters of the ruling Hamas and Fatah traded fire during protests after Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, called for early elections, medics and witnesses say.

A Palestinian boy was killed when he was caught in a gunfight in Gaza City, medical sources said.

The boy, Ibrahim Musleh, 13, died of bullet wounds shortly after being taken to hospital, the sources said, adding that his grandmother was also wounded.

Thousands of armed Hamas and Fatah supporters staged competing protests in central Gaza City late on Saturday.

Demonstrations were also under way in the south and the north of the coastal strip. Several smaller protests were also staged in the West Bank.

Hamas has rejected Abbas's call for elections, warning that it amounted to a call for "civil war" and vowed to fight the measure by bringing its supporters into the streets.

"Oh, Abu Mazen, oh spy!" chanted Hamas supporters, some of them masked and carrying the green flags of the movement and portraits of prime minister Ismail Haniya, in Gaza City.

"No, a hundred times not to early elections!" "Abu Mazen's call is a provocation and a coup d'etat against legitimacy and democracy," a Hamas spokesman, Ismail Radwan, cried to the crowd, referring to Abbas by his widely used monicker.