PA to hold first local West Bank vote since 2005

October 19, 2012

Palestinians are scheduled to cast their ballots on Saturday in the first local election in the West Bank since 2005.

This will be the second time that local elections are held in the West Bank since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in 1994.

The elections, which Hamas is boycotting, will take place in 92 municipalities and local councils. They are expected to further deepen divisions between Fatah and Hamas, which has accused the PA of planning to steal the vote.

The ruling Fatah faction is expected to score a landslide victory as its candidates face weak competition from independent figures and representatives of small political groups.

However, Fatah also faces challenges from scores of dissident Fatah members who are running on an independent ticket. Earlier this month, it decided to fire all of its members who are running outside the framework of the faction.

On Thursday, members of the PA security forces cast their ballots so they could be free to secure Saturday’s vote. Hanna Naser, chairman of the Palestinian Central Election Commission, said that only 40 percent of the security personnel headed to the voting stations.

Naser told reporters during a press conference in Ramallah that more than 500,000 Palestinians were entitled to vote.

He said the PA had completed preparations to ensure the elections would be held in a free and fair atmosphere.

Naser said nearly 2,000 local monitors will supervise the elections, in addition to 4,600 representatives of various political parties who have been assigned to voting stations.

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