Abbas says no to elections if Gazans cannot vote

PA president declares that elections must include West Bank and the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.

February 17, 2011 13:35
1 minute read.
Mahmoud Abbas

Abbas half smile profile 311. (photo credit: AP)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday that elections in September would be canceled if Hamas refused to allow voting in the Gaza Strip, Reuters reported.

"Elections should include the West Bank and Gaza," Abbas commented at a news conference. He added, "without that we cannot hold elections."

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The Palestinian Authority president's proclamation came after an Abbas aide told reporters Thursday that elections would be carried out regardless of Hamas's decision to participate, implying that elections would be carried out in the West Bank even if Hamas kept Gazans from casting their votes.

The Palestinian Authority said last week it planned to hold municipal elections this summer and on Saturday announced that it would also conduct voting for president and parliament by September.  Hamas immediately said it would refuse to participate, a stance experts said precludes the prospect of elections for now.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas' term officially expired in January 2009, a fact Hamas uses to deny his constitutional authority to call elections. Parliamentary elections were set to take place in January 2010, but were postponed after Hamas made clear that it would thwart them in the Gaza Strip, which has been under its political and military domination since June 2007.

Hamas has said that elections can only be held under "national accord,” under which the two sides agree to share control of Palestinian-ruled areas. It asserted that the timing of the announcement was a transparent attempt by the PA to cover its shame following the revelation of secret negotiation documents in which it "traded Jerusalem and the holy sites, sold the nation and conspired against the warriors."

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