Palestinian elections under threat

The Palestinian Elections Commission (CEC) said on Thursday it had resigned in protest at what it called government interference, in a move that could obstruct a Jan. 25 parliamentary election.

The CEC is an independent commission that supervises Palestinian elections. It would be impossible to conduct the election without it as it is in charge of making logistical arrangements for the ballot.

A letter of resignation was sent to President Mahmoud Abbas's office late on Wednesday. But the Palestinian leader had not yet received it as he was abroad and was not due to return until later on Thursday.

"We've submitted our resignation due to the insistence of the prime minister's office that members of the security forces vote in their own barracks instead of going to vote in their districts," Hanna Nasser, the commission's president, said.

He said the commission would only withdraw its resignation if the Palestinian cabinet led by Prime Minister Ahmed Qurie's rescinded the decision to allow 60,000 members of the security forces to vote in their barracks.

Allowing members of the security forces to vote in their barracks would not enable transparency and "is contrary to the laws and procedures stipulated by the CEC", Nasser said.

Abbas has come under pressure from many senior members of his own deeply divided Fatah faction, including Qurie, to delay the election. The race is expected to be close as the militant Islamic group Hamas will run for the first time, Reuters reports.


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