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Abbas consolidates power of PA spy chief

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. [Issam Rimawi - Anadolu Agency]
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. [Issam Rimawi - Anadolu Agency]

The President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas ordered modifications on Tuesday to the Basic Law to give more power to his intelligence chief, Majed Faraj, the official PA news agency has reported.

In his presidential order, Abbas also gave himself absolute power to appoint or sack the heads of the PA's General Intelligence Service, despite his advanced age. Abbas is 87 years old and there are concerns about his health.

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At the same time, he promoted the intelligence chief to the rank of minister with wide-ranging powers and authority. The presidential order consolidating Faraj's power is viewed by observers as part of the preparations for the post-Abbas era.

The General Intelligence Service was founded by late PA President Yasser Arafat in 1994. It has been run by Faraj, a member of Fatah's Revolutionary Council, since 2009. He is one of the front-runners to succeed Abbas as and when the time comes, and has been one of his "strongmen" for years.

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