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Hamas: Voter registration to start in Gaza 'soon'

Jan. 24, 2013 10:41 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 25, 2013 9:26 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The government in Gaza will invite the Central Elections Commission to resume work in the enclave "soon", a Hamas official said Wednesday.

Salah al-Bardawil said Gaza premier Ismail Haniyeh will invite CEC chief Hanna Nasser to Gaza to start updating the electoral roll in preparation for a vote.

Al-Bardawil told Ma'an that Hamas was determined to implement the reconciliation agreements signed with Fatah in Cairo and Doha.

In May 2011, the parties signed an Egypt-brokered reconciliation deal, agreeing to form a unity government of technocrats and independents to prepare for national elections and end the division between the Hamas-run Gaza Strip and the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.

Hamas chief Khalid Mashaal and Fatah leader President Mahmoud Abbas met recently in Cairo and agreed to set a timetable to implement the deal and reunite Palestine under one government.

The party leaders agreed that the CEC would resume operations in Gaza by the end of January.

The electoral roll has not been updated in Gaza since the last local elections were held in January 2005.

In July 2012, Hamas suspended the CEC's work a day before it was due to begin registering voters in Gaza, citing the continued arrest of Hamas members in the West Bank and its questions over the commission's impartiality.

Meanwhile, al-Bardawil said a new chief of Hamas' politburo will be announced soon.

Al-Bardawil said the party had completed "90 percent" of the process to elect Mashaal's successor, but the announcement of a new leader had been delayed by "technical issues."

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