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Last Updated: Monday, 18 September 2006, 16:15 GMT 17:15 UK
Protests cancel Hamas PM's speech
Protesters and Hamas guards scuffle in Gaza City
The protesters want Hamas to pay back outstanding wages
Palestinian PM Ismail Haniya has postponed a speech to parliament after people protesting over unpaid wages mobbed his vehicle in Gaza City.

One woman was hurt in clashes with Mr Haniya's bodyguards, who fired their guns in the air to disperse the crowd.

Thousands of civil servants have not been paid since Mr Haniya's Hamas party won elections earlier this year.

Mr Haniya was to have met lawmakers on Monday to discuss forming a possible coalition with the rival Fatah party.

But Fatah politicians decided to boycott his appearance in parliament.

A leading Fatah lawmaker said Mr Haniya's security entourage had attacked opposition politicians.

"In protest, we have decided to boycott this session and suspend it," Azam al-Ahman told the Associated Press news agency.

Fatah's talks aimed at forming a coalition with Hamas have been put on hold at least until Fatah leader and President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, returns from the US.

'Too much anger'

Hundreds of civil servants surrounded Mr Haniya's car as it approached the parliament building in Gaza City.

"Haniya, where are our salaries?" the crowd chanted, hitting the vehicle and blocking its way.

Guards for the Hamas leader responded by wrestling with the protesters and firing bullets into the air.

Mr Haniya said the protests showed democracy had gone too far.

"This is democracy with too much sugar," he told the AFP news agency.

More than 150,000 Palestinian civil servants and government employees have not received full wages since Hamas was voted into office six months ago.

The Hamas government's coffers have been drained by an aid embargo imposed by western nations who want to force the group to renounce violence and recognise Israel.

The aid freeze has caused an economic crisis among the Palestinians, a quarter of whom depend on government salaries.






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