Quraya: New PM within three weeks

Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmad Quraya says he does not intend to stay as premier when the emergency government's term expires in three weeks.

    Quraya (R) will remain head of the emergency government

    Quraya told members of Palestinian President Yasir Arafat's Fatah movement on Sunday that he would not seek re-nomination when a new cabinet was formed.

    Speaking after a meeting of the Fatah central committee, Quraya would only say that a government would be formed in three weeks "with a new prime minister too".

    Over the past week the premier had clashed bitterly with Arafat about who would be the interior minister and whether the Palestinian president had the power to appoint a Cabinet by decree.

    If Quraya follows through, he would be the second Palestinian prime minister to give up the job since last month.

    His predecessor, Mahmud Abbas, resigned in early September after clashing with Arafat over who would lead the security apparatus.

    However, senior Fatah members agreed that Quraya would continue as head of an emergency government, but the post of interior minister would remain vacant.

    After the meeting Quraya said a government would be formed in three weeks "with a new prime minister too".

    "The emergency government will continue for one month and after that we will have a wider government," said Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath.

    Quraya and six other ministers were sworn in by Arafat at a ceremony on Tuesday after the Palestinian leader declared a state of emergency.

    But Nasir Yusuf, the man nominated to take up the key post of interior minister, has refused to take the oath of office as he is understood to want parliamentary approval for the new government.

    Interior post frictions

    Sources had earlier said that Quraya and Arafat were still at loggerheads over Yusuf's position, with Quraya determined that he must be given the post and Arafat equally insistent that he would not join the government.

    Central committee member Abbas Zaki said the interior minister's functions would be filled for the moment by a security committee which was headed by Arafat.

    "The High National Security Council will take the role of the interior minister for one month and during this time this council will hold open meetings," said Zaki.

    Arafat recovers

    Meanwhile, Arafat has completely recovered from his illness, according to a senior Palestinian official.

    "President Arafat has fully recovered from the flu and stomach ailments he suffered from. The Egyptian medical team has departed after determining that Arafat's health is all right," said Tayyib Abd al-Rahim, a senior aide to the president.

    Palestinian officials earlier denied reports that Arafat, 74,  had suffered a heart attack or had stomach cancer.

    Arafat attended Friday prayers at his Ram Allah compound in his first public appearance for days. He looked pale, but showed no sign of weakness, bowing and kneeling without assistance.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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