BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Hamas leader Mahmud Zahhar on Monday defended his party's decision to suspend voter registration in the Gaza Strip, accusing Fatah of planning electoral fraud.
Zahhar told Voice of Palestine radio that Fatah planned to commit election fraud, adding that the Central Elections Commission was dominated by Fatah members, effectively allowing the party to supervise the electoral process.
The CEC was due to start registering voters in Gaza on Tuesday but Hamas suspended its work on Monday.
Zahhar also said there had been an increase in summons and arrests of Hamas members in the Fatah-run West Bank and that security forces of the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority were preventing Hamas meetings.
Hamas must be allowed to operate freely in the West Bank, Zahhar said.
Earlier Monday, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said a security crackdown in the West Bank meant Hamas members could not register to vote or monitor the election commission's work.
"We are still committed to reconciliation and to holding elections but aggressive security measures in the West Bank would lead to an election outcome favoring (Fatah)," he said.
Ahmed Assaf, a Fatah spokesman in the West Bank, accused Hamas of retreating from an Egyptian-brokered unity deal signed in May 2011.
"It means Hamas did not want an election to be held and did not want to move ahead toward reconciliation," Assaf said.
Fatah also accuses Hamas of holding members of the group in its Gaza jails. Disputes over political detentions by both sides have plagued efforts at unity.Reuters contributed to this report