RAMALLAH, West Bank, (Reuters) – Veteran Palestinian politician Ahmed Qurie said on Saturday he was back in the post of prime minister after resigning to contest in elections from which he has now dropped out.
The announcement added to confusion in President Mahmoud Abbas”s ruling Fatah movement, struggling to heal a rift between a corruption-tainted old guard and younger leaders that has boosted Hamas Islamic militants ahead of the Jan. 25 ballot.
It was not clear whether Abbas had given Qurie permission to return to the job as prime minister from which he resigned on Dec. 15 — as he was required to do by law in order to stand for parliament. Abbas”s office made no immediate comment.
"I was not convinced about running for the elections. I was forced to run by the Fatah Central Committee, so I sent a letter saying I am no longer a candidate," Qurie told reporters. "I will continue with my work as prime minister."
Despite Qurie”s resignation, he has continued to work from the prime minister”s office and no caretaker has been appointed by Abbas. The president is directly elected and can wield greater authority than the prime minister.
Officials said Qurie sent a letter to Abbas on Friday to say that he wanted the elections postponed and opposed a plan to merge two rival lists of candidates from the different wings of Fatah in a bid to heal the rift.
Qurie is part of a veteran generation from the time of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat that is being challenged within Fatah by younger leaders who are seeking a bigger share of power and are seen by many Palestinians as less tainted by corruption.
A former peace negotiator with Israel, Qurie was appointed by Arafat in 2003.