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Second stage of local elections to be held Dec. 22

Dec. 15, 2012 9:49 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 11, 2013 10:50 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- The second stage of local elections in the West Bank will take place on Dec. 22, Palestine's Central Elections Commission announced on Saturday.

The vote was meant to take place in late November but was suspended by the Palestinian Authority cabinet due to the security situation amid Israel's war on Gaza.

The second stage was originally announced after 78 districts failed to register any candidate.

Three electoral districts in Hebron -- Dura, Deir Razih and Kharsa -- have suspended the electoral process pending court decisions over boundary issues.

Following the last vote in October, the CEC and human rights groups expressed concern that a majority did not field multiple candidates, suggesting politicians review the electoral system particularly in small localities.

Analysts also expressed concern that family members and security personnel exerted pressure on potential candidates during the formation of electoral lists.

Palestinians first held parliamentary elections in 1995, rare among Arab countries at the time and a positive step after the interim Oslo peace accords with Israel the previous year, which have long lapsed and become an albatross for the same, sclerotic Palestinian leadership of the present day.

Local council elections were held in stages in 2005, but never completed after Hamas' electoral victory a year later prompted inter-factional fighting that split the West Bank and Gaza.

National elections have been on hold ever since. Hamas called off electoral registration in the Gaza Strip in early July, a day before the process was set to start, citing political partiality concerns and highlighting repression of its members in the West Bank.
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