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Palestinian envoy in Jakarta refuses to quit

Ribhi Awad, who is 65, was supposed to retire in Jan after 14 years in Indonesia, but has continued to hold on to his post.
By Agence France-Presse | None, Jakarta
PUBLISHED ON APR 18, 2006 02:29 PM IST

The retiring Palestinian ambassador in Jakarta has gone mad and is refusing to leave his post, his charge d'affaires and temporary replacement said on Tuesday.

Ribhi Awad, who is 65, was supposed to retire in January after 14 years in Indonesia, but has continued to hold on to his post and use the embassy facilities, the acting ambassador said.

"Awad is refusing to abide by the instruction of our government, for the sole reason, not based on political background or different political opinion, simply he has lost the faculty of his mind," Nasser Abdul Wahab told the agency.

"He even made atrocious allegations against everyone in the Palestinian government," he said.

Awad must answer "some serious questions about his financial integrity when he returns to Ramallah," he added.

Awad told the Warta Kota newspaper he had no means to support his family after serving the Palestinian Authority for 38 years.

"I won't leave this house until the new ambassador arrives," the veteran diplomat was quoted as saying by the daily.

"Even if our government provided pension money, it would be very small and not enough," he reportedly said.

Abdul Wahab said police were called to the embassy on Monday after Awad said he had been taken hostage by embassy staff.

"The police and reporters found that it was a false allegation," he said.

The interim ambassador refused to name Awad's replacement but said that he would assume his position soon. He added that the new man would not be from the radical Islamic group Hamas, which won the parliamentary elections this year.

"He is a career diplomat. He is closer to Fatah," he said, referring to the party of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Awad was a close aide of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

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