Leading members of the West-Bank based Palestinian group Fatah are demanding more power in the Palestinian Authority cabinet of Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, Fatah officials said on Tuesday.
"We are calling for a reshuffle of the key ministries," said Amin Maqboul, secretary general of Fatah's Revolutionary Council. He was speaking to Reuters after four days of closed-door meetings in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
The Council wants to turn the interior affairs, finance and foreign affairs portfolios currently held by Fayyad loyalists over to Fatah members, officials said.
Fatah has 11 seats in the 21-member caretaker cabinet led by Fayyad, a U.S.-backed technocratic independent.
Fayyad was appointed by President Mahmoud Abbas at a time when the West was pressing for reform in what was widely seen as a corruption-riddled administration.
Senior Fatah official Mahmoud al-Aloul said Abbas, who leads Fatah "also wants a reshuffle and he has no objection" to the Council's demands. But there was no immediate confirmation from the presidency.
Minister of Labour Ahmad Majdalani said Fayyad had already asked Abbas for cabinet changes to replace non-performing ministers. He is pressing ahead with an ambitious programme to build the institutions of the Palestine state which he expects to complete in 2011.
"There is a previous agreement between the president and the prime minister on the reshuffle," Majdalani told Reuters. "He cannot continue with his work with the current staff."
A close confidant of Fayyad said the premier would not mind Fatah taking any post except finance, which he holds and which is off-limits.
"They know that they cannot get the ministry of finance and Fayyad may quit if they insist on taking it. I don't think things will go that far," this source said.
Fatah argues that a reshuffle would improve the performance of the government, Aloul told Reuters.
Hamas won a parliamentary election in January 2006, ending a near-monopoly on power by the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and its dominant faction, Fatah. The government Hamas formed was subject to a crippling boycott by Western aid donors, leading to a unity government between Hamas and Fatah in 2007 in the Gaza Strip.
ReutersLast Mod: 28 Nisan 2010, 08:18