Palestinian court 'suspends' local elections over Fatah-Hamas disputes

Palestinian court 'suspends' local elections over Fatah-Hamas disputes
Elections scheduled for October 8 have been postponed following disputes between rival factions Hamas and Fatah
2 min read
08 September, 2016
Court postpones elections following Hamas-Fatah disputes [Getty]

Palestine local elections set for October 8 have been suspended following disputes between rival Fatah and Hamas movements over candidate lists.

The fallout has jeopardised the municipal vote for mayors and local councils, which would have been the first election involving both groups for a decade.

The decision was made by the high court in Ramallah in the West Bank, where Fatah is in power.

The New Arab understands the election has not been called off indefinitely, but delayed until December.

Hamas said it "rejects" the ruling, calling it a "political decision".

Fatah and Hamas have not contested an election since the 2006 parliamentary polls, which Hamas won - sparking a conflict in Gaza the following year.

Each side hoped this year's ballot would give it a foothold in what has been the other’s exclusive territories since 2007.

The vote, being held in 425 communities, might not allow either side to proclaim victory with independent candidates in the mix, but will give an indication of their popularity.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said of the ruling: “This is a political decision. We reject the decision to cancel the election and call on everyone to reject it."

A Hamas official told The New Arab's correspondent in Gaza, Diaa Kahlout, that it was a "politically-motivated decision attempting to save face for Fatah after a number of them were dropped from electoral committees and courts".

The National Front for the Liberation of Palestine called for the issues that will now arise to be addressed "in a responsible manner that will not undercut democratic processes".

This year's vote was planned with 81-year-old president Mahmud Abbas under heavy political pressure as opinion polls suggested most Palestinians would like him to step down.

There has been no Palestinian presidential election since 2005.