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Palestinian government resigns

RAMALLAH, Feb 14 – Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad on Monday tendered his government\’s resignation, a minister told AFP, just months before the Palestinians hold general elections.

The move, which was announced during an early-morning cabinet meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah, has been on the cards since the end of November, but was delayed by the popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, officials said.

"Dr Fayyad told the ministerial council that our government has resigned," the minister said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Fayyad told the ministers: "I am going to president Abbas to give him an official letter saying that we have resigned. This government is finished," the minister said.

In the wake of the move, Abbas was expected to immediately ask Fayyad to form a new government, a senior official told AFP late on Sunday.

Fayyad, who is expected to retain the post of premier he has held since 2007, was locked in discussions on Monday with ministers, officials said.

On Saturday, the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority said it would hold presidential and parliamentary elections by September, running into immediate opposition from its Islamist Hamas rivals in the Gaza Strip.

Plans to hold a general election in January 2010 were called off over opposition from Hamas, which does not accept the legitimacy of Abbas\’s rule.

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Last week, the Palestinian leadership also laid out plans to hold local elections on July 9, in what will be the first time Palestinians have gone to the polls since 2006.

Hamas has rejected all forms of voting called for by the Palestinian Authority, meaning the various polls will be limited to the West Bank.

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