Middle East

Palestinian groups meet in Egypt in unity quest

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas chairs a meeting of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in the West Bank city of Ramallah, on January 29, 2013. AFP PHOTO/ABBAS MOMANI

CAIRO: Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas is to convene a conference of all Palestinian organisations in the Egyptian capital later on Friday, in a new effort to reconcile his Fatah movement with the rival Hamas.

The meeting, scheduled for 1600 GMT, is of the provisional governing body of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, which is charged with bringing non-members Hamas and Islamic Jihad into the PLO.

Fatah and Hamas, which respectively govern the autonomous areas of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, signed an Egypt-mediated reconciliation agreement on April 27, 2011 in Cairo.

But most of its clauses went unheeded and deadlines were constantly postponed.

Friday's conference is to deal with implementing some of the key terms of the agreement, particularly organising long-awaited elections and the formation of a transitional non-partisan government to oversee parliamentary and presidential polls.

"The meeting of the governing body of the PLO will be held at the residence of president Mahmud Abbas in Cairo and will be preceded by multilateral and bilateral meetings and consultations," Azzam al-Ahmed, Fatah's head of reconciliation efforts, told reporters.

Ahmed met his Hamas counterpart, Mussa Abu Marzouk, in Cairo on Wednesday.

The PLO provisional governing council met in Cairo for the first time in December 2011. It includes PLO leaders and the heads of groups currently under its umbrella, as well as Hamas, Islamic Jihad and independent personalities.

Last week Hamas authorised the Central Elections Commission (CEC) to start registering voters in the Gaza Strip, removing a major obstacle to reconciliation with Fatah.

"When the elections commission starts its work, so will the consultations on national consensus government begin," Abbas said at the time.

The CEC said that voter registration would be carried out between February 11 and 18.





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