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Arafat remains in a critical condition

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Arafat remains in a critical condition

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The crowds of supporters outside the French hospital treating the PalestinianPresident have grown each day, as doctors there work to find out what is wrong with him.

A senior aide to Yasser Arafat has said he remains in a critical condition. No mention was made of unconfirmed reports earlier today that the 75 year old partially emerged from a coma, opened his eyes and spoke to doctors. Arafat has been in intensive care since Wednesday. The West bank city of Ramallah is already in mourning with flags flying at half mast. Arafat has not named a successor, but some of his powers have been handed to the Prime Minister. Ahmed Qurie who has now taken control of finance and security, held talks with US officials in Ramallah this morning. He is also due to meet with Palestinian factional leaders. Yesterday 14 Islamic and secular groups got together in the Gaza Strip to send out a message of unity. Amid speculation they could begin fighting among themselves they said their objective was freedom and not conflict. A senior Islamic Jihad official explained that they would like to see what he described as a “unified national leadership.”