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Palestinians in Syria register to vote for PNC

March 24, 2013 9:01 P.M. (Updated: March 25, 2013 7:21 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Palestinians in Syria's Yarmouk refugee camp have registered to vote in Palestinian National Council elections, the first in the diaspora to do so.

"We announce the registration, here in steadfast Yarmouk camp, of the first eligible voters outside of Palestine to the PNC elections," the Popular Campaign for Registration said in a statement.

The PNC is the highest legislative body of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

"We call upon our people in the occupied homeland and all other countries to take the initiative and to push the registration process forward in all locations, overcoming barriers and obstacles towards the birth of a new Palestine National Council: elected, inclusive, and capable of unifying the national will towards the long awaited goals of liberation and return," the group added.

Trained volunteers registered Palestinians to vote in Yarmouk, a camp that has been caught in the crossfire between President Bashar Assad's forces and rebels trying to overthrow him.

Osama Mousa, a refugee from Safad who registered to vote, said the Palestinian National Council must reflect the voices of Palestinian refugees,

"We are accustomed to rejecting despair and grew up on the idea of hope. That is why we should demand our right and bring back our unifying national institution so that it can represent Palestinian refugees across the world.

"This body, which possesses sole legitimacy, must reflect our voices and we shall not cease trying to reclaim it. For we have a duty to do so, and this is something that has been urgently needed for more than twenty years. This urgency increases daily, and it is extremely important that we have genuine representation for Palestinian refugees all over the world."

In 2012, Palestinian leaders issued a National Call for Registration urging Palestinians to participate in a civic registration drive.

The voter registration is being run by individuals and civil society organizations worldwide through a secure internet system.

No date has been set for PNC elections, but activists say organizing a voter registry will remove a logistical obstacle to holding a vote.
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