Palestinians 'technically' could vote in 3 months

The Palestinian authorities have the technical ability to run elections in three months, the Electoral Commission said on Friday.

Palestinians 'technically' could vote in 3 months

The Palestinian authorities have the technical ability to run elections in three months, the Electoral Commission said on Friday, but there is no plan to do so despite the president's call for an early vote.

"There are no arrangements at all to hold early elections," Central Elections Commission Secretary-General Rami al-Hamdallah told reporters after meeting President Mahmoud Abbas.

"From a technical point of view, the commission is ready to hold elections within 100 days.

"The commission is always ready to hold elections within 100 days from the issuance of a presidential decree." Hamdallah said he and other officials had discussed with Abbas the readiness of the Commission to hold the polls.

Abbas had said he will issue decrees as early as next week to allow presidential and parliamentary elections before they are due in 2010.

Making it harder for Hamas

However, he told Reuters in an interview on Thursday that he still could not forecast when voting might take place, given the opposition of Hamas and his own insistence elections must be held simultaneously in the Gaza Strip and the larger West Bank, where Abbas's secular Fatah faction remains in control.

He also said he will decree a change in electoral rules that, if there is a vote, might make it harder for Hamas to retain the large parliamentary majority it won last year.

"I will ... change the electoral law to a single national list instead of having two lists, one national and one by constituencies," Abbas said.

Under the existing rules, half the seats in parliament are allocated to parties according their share of the national vote and half are allocated to local constituencies.

In January last year, Hamas narrowly defeated Abbas's long dominant, secular Fatah faction in terms of the national vote. But it secured twice as many seats as Fatah overall due to its much greater success in winning constituency contests.

Some constitutional experts question Abbas's right to appoint a new government and amend the constitution by decree, arguing that he needs parliamentary approval.

Fatah leaders say parliament has ceased to function, partly as a result of Israel's jailing of about half of the Hamas lawmakers and partly through boycotts by rival blocs.

Asked if he himself would seek re-election, Abbas said: "It is too early to say."

Reuters

Güncelleme Tarihi: 27 Temmuz 2007, 19:22
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