Palestinians call for people's congress

Palestinian groups have called for people's congresses to be held in all areas of the occupied Gaza Strip to end the unrest that has shaken the region in recent weeks.

    Protests against appointment of Arafat's cousin have swept Gaza

    The assemblies should be set up with the aim of democratic reform of institutions to fight corruption and "enforce respect for the law," said the Committee of Nationalist and Islamist Forces, which links Palestinian President Yasir Arafat's Fatah and the Hamas resistance group.
     
    The bodies would "put an end to the absurd conflict between the forces and relevant services of the Palestinian Authority," said a committee statement released on Saturday.

    The committee also appealed for free and democratic elections, which would be the first since 1995, in advance of the prospect of a unilateral Israeli withdrawal from Gaza next year.

    Last Monday the committee called for democratic reforms, an end to anarchy and corruption and for corrupt officials to be prosecuted.

    Official building stormed

    Arafat faced a new challenge in the Gaza Strip on Saturday after activists from al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades took over the governor's office in the town of Khan Yunis demanding the veteran Palestinian leader should sack his cousin Musa as Gaza security chief and reinstate officers who had been fired.

    The Khan Yunis governor's office
    was taken over briefly

    The police station in al-Zawaida, a village near Dir al-Balah, was burned to the ground by unidentified assailants. There were no reports of casualties and no immediate claim of responsibility.
     
    The brigades, an armed wing of Arafat's Fatah, have been spearheading protests in Gaza for the past two weeks against Arafat's appointment of Musa, accused of being corrupt, as the territory's security chief. The unrest started with a string of kidnappings, followed by subsequently resignations.

    Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmad Quraya, who has been battling Arafat for control of the security services, also tendered his resignation last Saturday after a spate of kidnappings, but Arafat had refused to accept it.

    SOURCE: AFP


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