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Elections commission set to update Gaza register

Feb. 9, 2013 3:24 P.M. (Updated: March 6, 2013 10:18 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- The Central Elections Commission is ready to begin updating electoral registers in the Gaza Strip, the organization's executive director said Saturday.

Hisham Kahil said the commission has set up 256 centers for voter registration in Gaza, mainly in governmental and UN schools.

All voters aged 17 and older can register between Monday and Friday, he said.

In addition, the CEC is updating the West Bank register in 373 centers across the territory.

The roll has not been updated in Gaza since Jan. 2005. The operation of the CEC in Gaza is a boost to reconciliation efforts between Fatah, which dominates the West Bank government, and Hamas, which rules Gaza.

In July last year, 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.

After almost two years of stalling and setbacks, the parties' leaders agreed in January to press ahead wit the May 2011 deal to reunite Palestine under one government.

Hamas chief Khalid Mashaal and Fatah leader agreed that the CEC would resume operations in Gaza by the end of January, paving the way for fresh national elections.

Both the parliament and the president's terms have expired during the electoral impasse. Hamas and Fatah split into separate governments in 2007.
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