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Fatah links gov't formation to progress in elections file: official

(Xinhua)

08:13, February 22, 2012

RAMALLAH, Feb. 21 (Xinhua) -- Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party wants progress to be made on the preparation for elections before an interim government is formed, an official said Tuesday.

Abbas will not start discussions to select members of his government before he agrees with rival Hamas movement "on practical steps," said Jamal Muhissen, a member of Fatah Central Committee.

"These steps should allow Central Elections Commission (CEC) to start preparing for polls in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip," the official added.

Abbas is expected to meet Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal on Thursday in Cairo "to discuss the files of government and elections as associated tracks," Muhissen said.

Earlier this month, Abbas and Mashaal reached an agreement under a Qatari auspices to form an interim government in a renewed effort to reconcile the two parties and restore political unity to the Palestinian territories.

The transitional government will have limited and specific tasks, mainly overseeing presidential and parliamentary elections, Muhissen said, adding that Hamas needs to make "serious steps."

The CEC said earlier that Hamas allowed it to reopen offices in Gaza, but still banned them from updating voter records.

Some Gaza-based leaders of Hamas voiced opposition to the Doha agreement, saying that Mashaal signed it without consulting them and the deal exceeds the original reconciliation pact brokered by Egypt in May 2011. Hamas leaders will meet in Cairo to exchange views and come up with a united position regarding the Abbas-Mashaal deal, Ghazi Hamas, a Hamas official, told Voice of Palestine Radio on Tuesday.

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