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Hamas official: No elections without West Bank freedoms

March 6, 2012 10:25 A.M. (Updated: March 7, 2012 11:12 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Senior Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya said Monday that his party refuses to hold elections until they can operate freely in the West Bank.

Responding to a question from a Ma'an reporter on why the Gaza government has not permitted the Central Elections Commission to update the electoral register, al-Hayya said elections will not happen without more freedom for Hamas members in the West Bank.

As part of a May 2011 reconciliation deal between his party and Hamas, the sides signed up to resolving curbs on political freedom, a new transitional government and fresh elections within a year. The deal has repeatedly stalled as the parties continue to argue over its key tenets.

The Central Elections Commission reopened its office in Gaza in January, but says it has been prevented from working in the field, and must update the electoral register in advance of any poll.

The government to oversee elections was agreed by party leaders in February, but Hamas officials opposed the appointment of Fatah leader President Mahmoud Abbas to lead the cabinet.

Both parties say the other has now requested a delay in appointing the transitional government.

Al-Hayya reiterated the Hamas stance that Abbas asked not to form the new government until Israel confirms it will allow elections in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Abbas must form a government immediately or resign from the prime ministerial post, al-Hayya told Ma'an. Abbas insists he is waiting for the go ahead by Hamas while it resolves internal dissent within its ranks.
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