Palestinian government postpones local elections by four months

The Palestinian government postponed local elections by four months on Tuesday, a day after a court ruled to allow voting in the West Bank, but not the Gaza Strip, an official statement said.

The government, in consultation with President Mahmoud Abbas, was working to hold elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip on the same day, Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said during a cabinet meeting.

"We made this decision keeping in mind the higher interest of our people and its unity," Hamdallah said.

Nickolay Mladenov, UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, expressed his support in a Tuesday statement.

"I urge all Palestinian bodies to work together in good faith to overcome internal divisions and uphold democracy," he said.

The Central Elections Commission in the West Bank also applauded the government's decision, saying it was in line with the commission's earlier recommendation to wait six months before conducting elections.

Elections in the West Bank and Gaza were originally set for October 8.

That plan fell apart last month after a court in Ramallah suspended the elections until it could decide at a later date if they should even take place.

The court decision to suspend the elections came after the Fatah party had accused its rival, Hamas, of sabotage.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said Tuesday that the government's decision was "an attempt to avoid elections in a way to serve the narrow Fatah interests."

Hamas demands that elections are held in the West Bank and Gaza at the same time, and without delay, he added.

Most of the more than 400 local councils are in the West Bank, which last held elections in 2012, albeit without Hamas, which boycotted them. The last municipal elections in Gaza were in 2005.

Last update: Tue, 04/10/2016 - 14:53

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