Palestinian elections delayed

The Palestinian parliamentary elections, originally set for the summer, will be held in January.

Last Modified: 31 Jul 2005 15:44 GMT
Hamas did well in elections earlier in the year

The Palestinian parliamentary elections, originally set for the summer, will be held in January.

Speaking on Sunday, the Palestinian Information Minister Nabil Shaath said Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas would issue a decree on 7 August setting the date. They expect the date to be around 20 January. Shaath said that, during the week, Palestinian factions would meet to agree on the exact date.

Abbas postponed the election after three rounds of local balloting resulted in significant gains for the Islamic Hamas, which is contesting the parliamentary elections for the first time.

Though Abbas cited technical reasons for the delay, it was seen as likely that he wanted to consolidate security and government reforms before facing the voters.

The postponement puts the parliamentary balloting after Israel's pullout from the Gaza Strip, set for next month. Abbas has been working to coordinate a smooth transfer of authority, and Shaath said some progress has been made.

Also, Shaath said that at an upcoming Arab summit in Sharm al-Shaikh, Egypt, Abbas would ask for Arab political and financial support for the Palestinian view that the Gaza pullout should be the first step towards implementing the internationally backed road map peace plan for a Palestinian state, halting Israeli settlement building in the West Bank.

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