Wednesday, June 26, 2002

Palestinians announce January elections While Bush Threatens To Reduce Aid



Palestinian Authority Cabinet minister Saeb Erekat announced parliamentary and presidential elections for mid-January 2003. Erekat also laid out a 100-day plan for reforms within the Palestinian Authority. He said the Authority had approved a 100-day plan for reforms in ministries, institutions and security apparatuses, as well as in the ministry of finance and the judiciary. New judges would be appointed under the new plan, and the new Palestinian Interior Ministry will be in charge of preventive security, civil police and courts.

Meanwhile, the United States said Wednesday it would use diplomatic pressure and the threat of cutting off aid to force reforms within the Palestinian Authority, warning there would be "consequences" if Yasser Arafat were re-elected as President in the election scheduled for next January. "If there are free and fair elections, we're not going to try and interfere in the election process. We are going to respect the democratic processes but there are consequences," said a senior administration official speaking to reporters at the Group of Eight summit meeting in Canada. The official declined to elaborate on what those consequences might be.

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