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EU funds Palestinian elections commission

May 8, 2012 6:10 P.M. (Updated: May 9, 2012 8:12 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- The European Union on Tuesday agreed to fund projects to support the Central Elections Commission, the CEC announced.

The EU will provide 674,370 euros ($878,200) to boost the CEC's capacities and strengthen its civic engagement in the West Bank and Gaza, the CEC said in a statement.

The funding will support projects to enhance the election body's human resource base, establish links with civil society groups and raise public awareness, CEC said.

It will also pay for the refurbishing of the commission's regional office in Gaza.

CEC chairman Hanna Nasir said the support would help the commission to maintain readiness for future elections.

Elections have not been held in the West Bank or Gaza since 2006.

President Mahmoud Abbas has postponed elections several times, and pledged in May 2011 to hold a vote within a year, but no date has been set.

The Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority has said the overdue election cannot be held until Hamas agrees to allow residents of Gaza to vote.

The CEC reopened its office in Gaza in January after a two-year closure imposed by Hamas, but the party is refusing to let the commission update its voter registry in the enclave.

Senior Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya told Ma'an in March that the Gaza leadership would not allow the CEC to work until Hamas could operate freely in the Fatah-controlled West Bank.

Hamas won a surprise victory in the last Palestinian elections in 2006.

The vote was declared free and fair by international observers but the international community imposed sanctions on the government in response to Hamas' win.
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