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Last Updated: Saturday, 10 November 2007, 14:28 GMT
Arafat mausoleum opened by Abbas
Mr Abbas with wreath at ceremony, 10 November 2007
Mr Abbas laid a wreath at the ceremony
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has unveiled a mausoleum to former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in the West Bank town of Ramallah.

Mr Abbas laid a wreath in the tomb, in the compound where Mr Arafat spent the last two years of his life.

The mausoleum complex cost $2m (1m) to build and includes a mosque.

The commemoration is the first in a series of honours to mark the third anniversary of his death in a Paris hospital on 11 November 2004.

'Temporary' tomb

The mausoleum measures 11 metres by 11 metres, to mark the day Mr Arafat died.

His death followed a two-year siege of his compound by Israeli forces. Mr Arafat had been flown to Paris for treatment after weeks of mystery stomach pains.

Honour guard at mausoleum, 10 November 2007
The complex cost $2m to build

The tomb also includes a minaret which shines a laser beam towards Jerusalem, the city Palestinians want to become the capital of an independent state, said the BBC's correspondent Aleem Maqbool.

Mr Abbas said he hoped Mr Arafat's body would one day be buried in Jerusalem.

"We will continue on the path to set up the independent Palestinian state with [Jerusalem] as its capital, God willing," Mr Abbas said.

The opening ceremony included Palestinian honour guards in navy green uniforms with golden epaulettes, with a brass band playing and prayers from a local imam.

Yasser Arafat
Yasser Arafat died in a Paris hospital on 11 November 2004

"The monument is built on a natural spring, and the water signifies that it is temporary, for it will be moved to Jerusalem after liberation," project supervisor Mohammed Ashtiyah was quoted by the AFP news agency as saying.

The third anniversary of Mr Arafat's death comes towards the end of a divisive year in Palestinian politics, with the militant Islamist Hamas movement overthrowing the rule in Gaza of Mr Abbas's Fatah party, which Mr Arafat founded.

On Sunday, a large rally is due to be held at the West Bank compound, and another held on Monday in Gaza.

SEE ALSO
In pictures: Arafat's 40-day mourning
21 Dec 04 |  In Pictures
In pictures: Arafat funeral
12 Nov 04 |  In Pictures
Reporters' log: Arafat funeral
12 Nov 04 |  Middle East



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