GAZA, May 29 (Xinhua) -- Islamic Hamas movement which rules the Palestinian Gaza Strip said Thursday that the announcement of the unity government was put off due to differences with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zohri said in a press statement that the delay happened because Hamas rejects Abbas' desire to keep current foreign minister Riad al-Malki in office in the future government.
"Abbas also wants to cancel the ministry of prisoners' affairs and turn it into an independent body, which was also rejected by Hamas for national reasons," he added.
Officials of Abbas' Fatah party and Hamas have declared over the past days that the unity government would be announced and sworn in on Thursday.
The Hamas' statement came a few hours after Abbas officially asked the current prime minister Rami al-Hamdalla to form the interim consensus cabinet.
On April 23, the Hamas movement and Fatah party announced a reconciliation agreement to end a Palestinian political rift that started when Hamas took over Gaza in June 2007 after routing forces loyal to Abbas who now rules the West Bank.
Under the agreement, which is opposed by Israel, Abbas would start discussions to form a unity government within five weeks and call for general elections six months after forming the new administration.