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Election body: 155,000 registered to vote in Gaza

Feb. 16, 2013 10:08 A.M. (Updated: Feb. 18, 2013 12:31 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- The Central Elections Commission said Saturday that 155,000 people have registered to vote in the Gaza Strip, with two days to go until the update of the electoral roll closes.

The roll has not been updated in Gaza since Jan. 2005 and the operation of the CEC in Gaza is seen as a boost to reconciliation efforts between Fatah and Hamas.

CEC director Hisham Kahil said 79 percent of eligible voters were now registered in Gaza, and in the West Bank -- where a parallel voter registration process is taking place -- 76 percent of voters are on the roll.

The number of newly-registered voters is up 18 percent on the last electoral roll update, Kahil said.

Voter registration centers will close on Monday, and the CEC will then start processing the data, which will take between four to six weeks.

After centers close, rival factions Hamas and Fatah have pledged to meet again to agree an election date and the composition of a unity government.

The last parliamentary vote was held in 2006, when Hamas swept to power, ending the dominance of Fatah. The following civil war split Palestinians both geographically and politically.

Both the parliament and the president's terms have expired during the electoral impasse.
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