Abbas smiling 311 AP.
(photo credit: AP)
Events in Egypt prompted the Palestinian Authority on Saturday to declare that
it was preparing to hold presidential and parliamentary elections as early as
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The PA’s announcement came in the wake of former Egyptian
President Hosni Mubarak’s decision Friday to step down.
Last week, the PA
announced that it would also hold municipal elections in July.
said it will boycott the three elections and not allow voting in the Gaza
PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s term in office expired in January
2009. The parliament’s term expired a year later.
The last time municipal
elections were held in the West Bank and Gaza Strip was in 2006. The ongoing
dispute between Fatah and Hamas has prevented agreement on holding elections in
the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The 75-year-old Abbas had previously
announced that he had no intention to run for another term. This means that if
and when presidential elections take place in September, the PA will have a new
If Hamas and other Palestinian groups insist on banning the
elections in the Gaza Strip, the vote would take place in the West Bank
Many Palestinians see Mubarak’s departure from the scene as a blow
to Abbas, who had maintained a close relation with the former Egyptian president
for many years.
“Abbas has lost his important ally in the Arab world,”
said a Palestinian editor in Ramallah.
“He always knew that he could rely
on Mubarak to help him with the US, Israel and even Hamas.”
the PA had officially banned anti-Mubarak demonstrations in the West Bank. On
one occasion, the PA leadership even organized a small pro-Mubarak demonstration
When dozens of Palestinians tried to stage an anti-Mubarak
protest in Ramallah, PA security forces used force to disperse them. Facing
criticism from human rights organizations, the PA later permitted one
demonstration in support of the anti-government demonstrators in
On Saturday, however, the PA leadership voiced support for the
Egyptian people’s aspirations, expressing hope that the regime change in Cairo
would not affect relations between the two sides.
“Egypt is a great
country and a genuine partner of the Palestinians in their struggle to achieve
freedom and independence,” said Yasser Abed Rabbo, a senior PLO official and
aide to Abbas. “We have no doubt that Egypt will continue to support the
Palestinians and their just cause.”
In the Gaza Strip, thousands of
Palestinians took to the streets over the weekend to celebrate Mubarak’s
Hamas “congratulated” the Egyptians on getting rid of Mubarak
and urged the new leaders in Cairo to reopen the Rafah border crossing.