Delay of Iraqi parliamentary elections is declared

Palestinian President &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Mahmoud Abbas announced on Saturday that parliamentary elections would be delayed, a widely expected move the militant Hamas group said stemmed from fears it would do well at the ballot box.

In a public decree, Abbas said he had decided to postpone the July 17 poll to allow time to resolve a dispute over proposed reforms to the voting law.

He gave no new date for the election and said one would be given in a future presidential announcement.

The delay could stoke tensions between Abbas's Fatah faction and Hamas, which had been poised to make a strong showing in its first legislative campaign. Hamas had reacted to earlier hints of a delay by accusing Fatah of maneuvering to cling to power, informs Reuters.

The delay would enable Abbas to take steps to strengthen the ruling Fatah party against &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Hamas. The Islamic group has emerged as a formidable rival in local Palestinian elections in recent months, indicating a strong performance in the national vote.

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