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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 February 2006, 18:30 GMT
Hamas names senior post choices
Aziz al-Duwaik
Aziz al-Duwaik is a respected politician in the West Bank
Palestinian militant group Hamas has made its first nominations for senior parliamentary posts after winning elections last month.

University professors Aziz al-Duwaik, from the West Bank, and Ahmed Bahar, from Gaza, were the group's choices for speaker and deputy speaker.

Mahmoud Zahhar, believed to be Hamas' leader in Gaza, will be head of the group's majority faction in parliament.

Other appointments are expected after parliament's first session on Saturday.

Hamas leaders say they plan to appoint a cabinet in early March, and that the next prime minister will be a member of the group.

Speaker

Mr Duwaik, who teaches geography at al-Najah University in Nablus, is a respected member of Hamas in the West Bank.

As speaker, Mr Duwaik would stand in as president in the event of the incumbent dying or resigning.

Mr Bahar, a long-time Hamas activist who is also a professor of Arabic at the Islamic University in Gaza City, is an MP for the Sheikh Radwan district.

The two men's nominations are expected to be passed by the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), where Hamas MPs occupy 72 out of 132 seats.

Correspondents say the nominations suggest Hamas will choose Ismail Haniya, who headed the group's national list of candidates in January's elections, to be prime minister.

Considered a pragmatist, Mr Haniya is believed to be more open to dialogue with Israel than many other Hamas leaders.


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