PLO approves Palestinian elections

Central council of the Palestine Liberation Organisation backs Abbas's call for polls.

    President Mahmoud Abbas had asked
    the PLO to call for early elections [EPA]
    Hamas response
    The decisions were adopted by consensus. Mahmoud Zahar, a Hamas leader, said the group would try to derail elections.
    "The Palestinian people - and Hamas is a part of the people - will not allow early elections to create results that America approves of," he said in Gaza City.
    Meanwhile, Hamas denied an Israel accusation that it had significantly stepped up weapons smuggling since taking over Gaza last month.
    A senior Israeli security official said Hamas had brought 20 tonnes of explosives into Gaza and was trying to import longer-range rockets.
    Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman, said: "This is not true. They want to use this as a pretext to tighten the siege on Gaza."
    Abbas and Hamas have been wrangling over political legitimacy since the Gaza takeover last month. Abbas, separately elected in 2005, fired the unity government with Hamas and installed a West Bank-based emergency cabinet.
    Hamas has denounced the measures as unconstitutional.
    It remains unclear whether Abbas is serious about a new vote or simply trying to press Hamas to reverse its Gaza takeover.
    Some participants in Thursday's Central Council meeting said they believe Abbas is simply trying to force Hamas to reverse the takeover, and that in such a case he would quickly call off elections.
    "Our call for early elections is another means of pressure on Hamas to retract," said Ahmed Majdalani, a member of a small PLO faction.
    The risks of holding elections are high. Abbas aides have said he would run for president again, even though polls indicate his popularity is low and he would be neck-and-neck with Hamas's most popular politician, Ismail Haniya, who was deposed as prime minister by Abbas last month.
    Even if voting goes ahead in the West Bank, a Fatah stronghold, there is no guarantee Abbas or his party would win.
    Fatah was ousted in 2006 because of widespread voter anger over official corruption, and the party has failed to reform.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    Interactive: Coding like a girl

    Interactive: Coding like a girl

    What obstacles do young women in technology have to overcome to achieve their dreams? Play this retro game to find out.

    Heron Gate mass eviction: 'We never expected this in Canada'

    Hundreds face mass eviction in Canada's capital

    About 150 homes in one of Ottawa's most diverse and affordable communities are expected to be torn down in coming months

    I remember the day … I designed the Nigerian flag

    I remember the day … I designed the Nigerian flag

    In 1959, a year before Nigeria's independence, a 23-year-old student helped colour the country's identity.