Hamas suspends Gaza voter registration (REUTERS) By Nidal al-Mughrabi GAZA 07/02/12 6:01am EDT)
Reuters News Service
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(Reuters) - Hamas suspended voter registration in the Gaza Strip on
Monday in a setback to Palestinian plans for parliamentary and
presidential elections and to forging unity with President Mahmoud
Abbas´s Fatah movement.
Hamas, the Islamist group that seized the enclave from Fatah forces
in 2007, cited the continued arrest of its members in the West Bank
by security forces of the Palestinian Authority, which is led by
The Central Election Committee had urged Palestinians in the West
Bank and Gaza Strip to take part in voter registration, due to begin
on Tuesday. Abbas was then expected to issue a decree setting a date
for the long-delayed elections.
"Hamas decided to temporarily suspend the work of the commission
until the obstacles are removed," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said.
"We are still committed to reconciliation and to holding elections
but aggressive security measures in the West Bank would lead to an
election outcome favouring (Fatah)," he said.
Hamas members in the West Bank, Abu Zuhri said, could not register to
vote or monitor the election committee´s activities because of the
Ahmed Assaf, a Fatah spokesman in the West Bank, accused Hamas of
retreating from Egyptian-brokered unity deals.
"It means Hamas did not want an election to be held and did not want
to move ahead toward reconciliation," Assaf said.
Fatah also accuses Hamas of holding members of the group in its Gaza
jails. Disputes over political detentions by both sides have plagued
efforts at unity.
Hani Habib, a political analyst in Gaza, called Hamas´s move "a real
setback. It bolsters doubts by the Palestinian public that neither
side has good intentions to end the division."
(Additional reporting by Ali Sawafta in Ramallah; Editing by Janet
Lawrence) (© Thomson Reuters 2012. 07/02/12)
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