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Palestinian security forces to vote early in local elections

May 6, 2017 11:03 P.M. (Updated: May 8, 2017 7:23 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Voting in upcoming municipal elections will be held two days early for members of the Palestinian security forces, according to official Palestinian news agency Wafa.

Citing a statement from the Central Elections Commission (CEC), Wafa reported that the elections, which are scheduled to be held in the occupied West Bank on May 13, would take place on Thursday, May 11, from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. local time for security forces members.

"This will enable them from exercising their electoral light (sic) while undertaking their responsibility in securing the official elections day on May 13," Wafa quoted the CEC as saying.

The CEC will open 10 polling centers with 26 polling stations in 25 localities of the West Bank which have more than 200 registered security personnel, according to Wafa, adding that the total number of registered security forces in these localities was 11,000 voters.

At the end of the pre-voting day, the ballot boxes will be transferred and "securely kept in special rooms inside each center," Wafa said. Ballot boxes will then be open for counting at the end of the official polling day and the results will be announced on the official day of declaration of election results.

Security personnel whose names are not listed in the early voting lists will be entitled to vote on the official elections day, provided they are registered voters, the report added.
While the elections process has continued to move forward, a number of Palestinian political factions have said they would boycott the elections, including the Hamas movement, Islamic Jihad, and the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). 

After the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority (PA) announced the elections at the end of January would be scheduled in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, Hamas -- the de facto ruling party of Gaza -- promptly rejected the plan, saying that elections should only take place after the more than decade-long rivalry between Hamas and Fatah came to an end and reconciliation was achieved.

The most recent attempt to hold local elections came after elections scheduled to be held in October were postponed, following backlash over a PA Supreme Court ruling to exclude the Gaza Strip from the elections altogether.

Prior to their cancellation, the municipal elections had been 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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