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Arafat to form new government as Cabinet quits

Arafat failed to persuade legislators over a threatened no-confidence vote
Arafat failed to persuade legislators over a threatened no-confidence vote  

RAMALLAH, West Bank (CNN) -- The Palestinian Cabinet resigned Wednesday -- a move designed to head off a revolt in the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC).

The move forces Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat to form a new government.

His ministers resigned minutes before an almost certain vote of no confidence in the 88-member PLC. If the no-confidence vote had been approved, it would have been a historic rebuke by the legislature of Arafat's leadership.

Arafat accepted the resignations and now has 14 days to appoint a new government.

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The PLC adjourned after the Cabinet quit. Leaders said they would reconvene in two weeks to consider Arafat's new slate of Cabinet members.

PLC members have openly expressed anger over repeatedly being ignored by Arafat and over the Palestinian leader's failure, in the opinion of the legislators, to get rid of Cabinet members they considered corrupt.

The resignations came after the Palestinian leader pleaded with the legislators not to cast a vote of no confidence in his government.

Arafat had called the lawmakers to his office around 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, half an hour before they had scheduled to convene, in a final attempt to persuade them to approve the Cabinet.

But after a two-hour meeting, the legislators left with most saying their minds had not been changed.

Arafat revamped his Cabinet in June, cutting the number of ministries from 30 to 21, amid international and internal pressure to enact reforms.




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