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Municipal councils who resigned to run in elections to return to their offices

Oct. 11, 2016 6:16 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 11, 2016 6:16 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) – The Palestinian Authority (PA) decided on Tuesday that municipal councils that had resigned from office in order to run in local elections would return to their original offices until the recently postponed elections were resumed. 

In a statement released following the PA’s weekly cabinet meeting, PA spokesman Yousif al-Mahmoud said that all municipal councils would resume their work, following the controversial postponement of much-awaited local elections earlier this month.

Several council members had resigned as required by law in order to run for the elections.

However, when elections were postponed, applications for all candidates were cancelled and the government decided to keep all municipalities in office as caretaker councils until new elections are held.

The statement added that the PA would task the minister of local governance with implementing the legal procedures related to the decision. 

Local elections in Palestine unraveled in recent weeks, with the Palestinian government postponing the elections for four months after coming under heavy criticism after the Palestinian Supreme Court announced that the elections would exclude the besieged Gaza Strip.

The move came some two weeks after the PA announced the halt of local elections after a court in the Gaza Strip dropped five Fatah-affiliated candidates from participating in the local elections in the besieged enclave, a source from the Supreme Court told Ma'an at the time. The Fatah-controlled Supreme Court said the decision was in response to several appeals submitted by lawyers challenging the legitimacy of elections that would not include East Jerusalem, while calling elections in the Gaza Strip “illegal.”

The recent electoral controversies have further heightened tensions between the Fatah-dominated PA and its rival Hamas, which have tried and failed to reconcile since the two groups came into violent conflict in 2006 when Hamas won general elections in the Gaza Strip.

A poll recently released by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) found that 61 percent of respondents were displeased by the Supreme Court’s initial decision to postpone the municipal elections, with 60 percent believing that the decision was politically motivated.

Prior to their cancellation, the municipal elections were set to be the first in the Gaza Strip in a decade, after Hamas’ victory in the 2006 vote erupted into a violent conflict between Hamas and Fatah, as both groups attempted to take control of the besieged coastal enclave.

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