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Elections commission 'to restart work in Gaza'

Jan. 13, 2013 10:39 A.M. (Updated: Jan. 14, 2013 4:38 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- The Palestinian elections commission will begin working in Gaza in the next few days, a political official told Ma'an on Saturday.

Independent coalition chief Khalil Assaf said factions meeting in Cairo in recent days had agreed to move forward with the electoral process in the Gaza Strip.

Holding fresh elections was a key component of the stalled 2011 unity deal between Hamas and Fatah. Since the parties split into separate governments in 2007, elections for parliament, president, and local councils have been delayed.

The West Bank held separate local council elections in recent months, after Hamas had called off electoral registration in the Gaza Strip at the last minute, citing political partiality concerns and highlighting repression of its members in the West Bank.

In the meantime, relations between the rival factions have improved, and party officials are engaged in renewed talks in Cairo to implement the reconciliation deal.

Party leaders President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah and Khaled Mashaal of Hamas met face-to-face in Cairo last Wednesday for the first time in over a year.

Assaf said during the Cairo meetings PLO reform was also agreed upon, and unification of West Bank and Gaza security services, which he described as the most complex part of reconciliation.
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