Hamas Wins Gaza Local Elections, US Unimpressed - Al-Shobaki: Municipal Polls Done in 6 Months, 2nd Stage April 28 (Palestine Media Center- (PMC) 01/29/05)
ARAB PRESS Articles-Index-Top
Hamas swept seven out of ten municipalities, winning 75 of the 118
council seats, with 20 seats going for women, on Thursday in a voter
turnout that topped 85 percent in the first-ever local elections in
the Gaza Strip.
Meanwhile, the United States downplayed Hamas electoral victory and
confirmed that it will continue to deal with the Islamic movement as
a “terrorist” organization.
Palestine National Authority (PNA) Local Government Minister Jamal al-
Shobaki announced that 414 candidates contested 118 seats. 60,480
people representing 72 percent of 83,700 eligible voters took part in
the elections, he said.
The ruling Fatah movement won 26 seats, the Popular Front for the
Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) one, clan-affiliated Fatah supporters
four and the rest of the seats went for “independents.”
Hamas ran in nine of the towns, under the slogan “Change and Reform.”
Thursday’s vote was the first-ever municipal election in the coastal
Al-Shobaki told a press conference in Gaza city that the Higher
Commission for Local Elections decided to complete the municipal
elections within six months instead of one year, as was previously
A list of names of the constituencies that will go to polls in the
second stage on April 28 will be submitted to the Council of
Ministers (cabinet) for approval, and will constitute 50 percent of
the remaining municipalities.
The third stage of the local elections will be held three months
later, he said.
Thousands of Hamas supporters celebrated their electoral victory in
the streets beneath the green flags of the Islamic movement Friday.
“Hamas’s victory proves Islam is the solution,” blared a slogan from
“Our people have a consensus on the choice of jihad and resistance
and the election has underscored that concept,” Hamas spokesman
Mushir al-Masri told reporters.
He said the victory was a vindication for the group’s resistance
“This is a big victory for the resistance,” said al Masri. “It seems
that resistance and Qassam (rockets) that used to be fired ... have
won,” he said.
The Gaza voting follows the December 23 local elections in 26 West
Bank towns and villages, and a January 9 presidential election in
which PLO Chairman Mahmoud Abbas was elected to succeed Yaser Arafat
as the PNA President after Arafat’s death on November 11.
In the local elections in the West Bank, Hamas made a strong showing
and took control of several towns away from Fatah.
However, the United States said Friday it continues to consider the
Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) as a “terrorist organization,”
the State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said in Washington.
The State Department said the group has nothing constructive to bring
to the political process as long as it maintains “a course of
Boucher pointedly did not welcome the election outcome, praising
instead the peaceful conduct of the polling and what he said was
excellent cooperation between Israeli and Palestinian security
officials in facilitating free movement for voters.
“Certainly we have not changed our view of Hamas as an organization.
We think it needs to be put out of the terrorism business. And that
remains very clear for us. But as I said, I think the test right now
for the Palestinians, if they want to achieve a Palestinian state, if
they want to achieve their national aspirations, is to see whether
they will move forward and end the violence, take active steps to end
the violence, and create the institutions that can support a state,”
“Winning an election doesn´t mean you stop your violence. You stop
your violence because you ban violence as a goal. And that has to be
the criteria of judging any particular organization or individual,”
he added, according to the official Voice of America radio. (© PMC
Return to Top
MATERIAL REPRODUCED FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY