Hamas celebrates landslide victory in first ever local elections in Gaza (AFP-FRANCE PRESSE) GAZA CITY 01/28/05 3:52 AM ET)
AFP} Agence France Presse
AFP} Agence France Presse Articles-Index-Top
GAZA CITY (AFP) - The radical Islamist movement Hamas was celebrating
a landslide victory in the first ever local elections in the Gaza
Strip, winning 77 out of the 118 seats up for grabs, election
commission sources said.
The mainstream Fatah faction of Palestinian Authority president
Mahmud Abbas won just 26 seats while independents and minor parties
won the remaining 15 slots in 10 municipalities across the territory
in Thursday´s election.
The official results were not due to be announced until a 2:00 pm
(1200 GMT) press conference by local government minister Jamal
Shobaki but sources on the election commission confirmed the results
and the massive 85 percent turnout of registered voters.
The turnout figure easily surpasses the 70 percent rate seen in the
January 9 presidential election which was boycotted by Hamas and
Hamas had campaigned on a strong anti-corruption ticket, amid
widespread disillusionment among voters about the incompetence and
cronyism which has characterised many councils.
Abbas has vowed a crackdown on corruption and to implement sweeping
reforms of the Palestinian institutions but the results in Gaza
appear to indicate that voters do not trust the establishment party
to put its own house in order.
Mushir al-Masri, a spokesman for Hamas, said the results were a
damning indictment of the levels of institutional corruption.
"This means that the Palestinian people reject corruption and hope
for change to protect its interests," he told AFP.
"This significant result also means that democracy has won."
While voting did not take place in any of the major population
centres such as Gaza City and the towns of Khan Yunis and Rafah, the
election was seen as a first major test of Hamas´s electoral
The movement did contest a round of local elections in the West Bank
late last month but it has always regarded Gaza as its real
Abbas has been trying to persuade Hamas to end its campaign of anti-
Israeli attacks and join the political mainstream, a process which
may become inevitable if the results from Thursday´s elections are
repeated in other rounds of local elections and in legislative
elections slated for July.
Hamas for its part has been talking of the need for a "unified
national leadership", indicating its willingness to work with the
Palestinian Authority even though it is an institution that it
Shobaki told AFP on Thursday that a new round of local elections
would be held on April 28, giving around 50 percent of the whole
population of the West Bank and Gaza an opportunity to exercise their
democratic right. (Copyright © 2005 Agence France Presse. 01/28/05)
Return to Top
MATERIAL REPRODUCED FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY