Hamas to boycott repoll

Hamas has said it will boycott a partial repoll ordered for Wednesday by Palestinian electoral officials in three Gaza Strip municipalities - a move regretted by the higher Palestinian follow-up committee.

    Hamas earlier called for the postponement of the election

    Earlier Hamas had called for the postponement of the elections until all arrangements were taken to prevent any kind of fraud.


    Later on Tuesday, a member of the Fatah higher committee, Samir Mashharani, said the group supported postponement of partial repolling.

    The Fatah stand was taken out of deference to the wishes of the higher Palestinian follow-up committee
    comprising nationalist and Islamic parties, and also for the sake of preserving national unity, he said.
    Al-Mashharani denied, however, that Fatah had agreed to repolling being postponed by one month, saying the date would be set by the Supreme Committee for Palestinian Local Elections.


    Hamas had made a strong showing in recent municipal elections only to see victories in three Gaza Strip towns quashed by a court after Fatah allegations of fraud.


    Hamas said that the movement had won wide support in the three municipalities and blamed the ruling Fatah for trying to steal its victories.


    Hamas' declaration followed the announcement of the Supreme Committee for Palestinian Local Elections that the partial election would be carried out in Gaza Strip on its set date, on Wednesday.


    The committee said it would distribute polling boxes on Tuesday evening in Rafah, al-Buraij and Bait Lahia.


    Firas Yaghi, director of the committee, told Aljazeera the committee had taken all necessary measures to hold the election.


    "We have trained more than 422 employees. We have provided polling boxes for more than 65 constituencies," he said.


    "We are ready to carry out the elections on Wednesday, according to the decision of the Palestinian courts, issued on 18, 19 May," he added. 


    Measures taken 


    "We have carried out intensive arrangements to guarantee that no violations will take place," Yaghi said.


    "We have brought employees to Rafah from outside the city. We have also contacted the Palestinian Interior Ministry to learn if the civil record includes names of deceased people, and their names have been marked with stars," he said.


    Senior members Al-Zahar (L)
    and Sami Abu Zuhri

    "We have contacted all local and international supervision establishments, asking them to be in direct contact with us and prevent any violation attempt," he added.


    Yaghi has also assured that they have contacted all Palestinian factions to guarantee their commitment to avoid electoral advertisements at polling centres.


    "In addition, we have placed special operations rooms for employees of the Supreme Committee for Palestinian Municipal Elections to observe everything taking place at the polling centres, where the repeated elections will be carried out," he added.  


    When asked about Hamas' decision not to take part in the partial election, Yaghi said: "We respect all nationalist and Islamic Palestinian factions.


    "However, we are now talking about the law and the implementation of the Palestinian courts' decisions,'' he said.  


    "Our mission, at the Supreme Committee for Palestinian Municipal Elections, is to implement the courts' decisions," he added.


    Prisoner release


    Palestinian sources have said that Israeli occupation authorities will on Thursday release 400 Palestinian prisoners in line with the commitment given by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in Washington a few days ago.
    The Palestinian prisoners will be transported to Israeli military checkpoints in the West Bank, the sources said.
    Israeli authorities earlier freed several hundred Palestinian prisoners out of an estimated 8500 held in Israeli jails. 
    The Palestinian Authority regards freeing of all prisoners in Israeli jails a prerequisite for implemention of any peace plan.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera


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