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Saturday, 4 May, 2002, 15:16 GMT 16:16 UK
Arafat faces calls for reform
Yasser Arafat holds a cabinet meeting
The authority has been accused of corruption
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat is facing growing calls to radically reform the Palestinian Authority (PA) following Israel's military offensive.

It comes amid accusations of corruption among the Palestinian leadership and a need to rebuild government institutions destroyed by months of conflict.

There needs to be change on many issues, political and otherwise

Nabil Abu Rudeina, Palestinian official
The Palestinian Authority said in a statement it had examined a "programme of political and administrative reforms" and would hold further meetings on the subject.

But at the first meeting of the Palestinian cabinet in a month, a Palestinian minister resigned after Mr Arafat rejected his ideas for a cabinet reshuffle.

Nabil Amr, Palestinian minister for parliamentary affairs, said: "I suggested appointing a cabinet to deal with pending affairs before choosing a cabinet which includes the best qualified Palestinians across the world and not only members of the Legislative Council.

"When Arafat refused to take my suggestion into account, I handed in my resignation and left the meeting," he said.

Committee appointed

The BBC's Kylie Morris in Gaza says Mr Arafat has indicated he will try to reform his government.

West Bank security chief Jibril Rajoub
Rajoub's future is in doubt

Palestinian communications minister Imad al-Falaji said on Saturday that Mr Arafat had appointed a committee to look into the running of the authority.

He said the committee would consider how to improve the working of the various ministries and report back to the Palestinian leader.

"Everybody will give a plan of how to rearrange the functioning of the PA, the work of the ministries and offices, so that we can come out of this as strong as possible," he told French news agency AFP.

A senior aide to Mr Arafat, Nabil Abu Rudeina, said the executive council - the Palestine Liberation Organisation's (PLO) top body - would meet later on Saturday "to make a comprehensive study of the whole situation, at the Palestinian level and at the wider Arab level".

"There needs to be change on many issues, political and otherwise," he said.

Power struggle

Our correspondent in Gaza says there is pressure from many fronts for a real government which reflects a cross section of the society, and an end to governing by favours.

The political futures of Yasser Arafat's heads of security, in particular Mohammed Dahalan, head of Palestinian security in Gaza, and West Bank security chief Jibril Rajoub, will be closely scrutinised.

There is also widespread expectation that moderates, including Hanan Ashrawi, will be brought in from the cold and given ministries.

Mr Arafat himself has at least four ministries in addition to his presidency, and he will be expected to share some of his power to maintain control.

See also:

25 Apr 02 | Middle East
Aid boost for Palestinians
20 Mar 02 | Middle East
Eyewitness: Bite of the blockade
08 Feb 02 | Middle East
Palestinian descent into chaos
30 Nov 01 | issues
The running of Palestine
26 Sep 01 | issues
Palestinians count the cost
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