Former minister calls for election boycott
Published Wednesday 22/08/2012 (updated) 23/08/2012 22:35
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Palestinians should refuse to participate in elections while public freedoms are suppressed, former minister and detainee Wasfi Qabha said Tuesday.
Qabha, a former Hamas Minister of Prisoner Affairs who is detained in Israel's Hadarim jail, criticized the Palestinian Authority's decision to hold elections in the West Bank without implementing national reconciliation first.
"Insisting on local elections before national reconciliation deepens the division among Palestinian factions, and increases tension in national relations," Qabha said in a statement.
Qabha said the PA must ensure public freedoms and stop political persecution in the West Bank to provide the appropriate atmosphere for elections, and urged factions to boycott a vote held under oppression.
"Holding elections while suppressing freedoms violates Palestinians' rights of expression and choice."
The Fatah-led PA announced on July 10 that it would hold elections on Oct. 20, a decision denounced by Hamas as a "unilateral step" that undermined reconciliation.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said Thursday that the party supported holding elections, but all the basic files of the reconciliation deal must be implemented first, including an interim leadership framework, PLO elections and a national unity government.
"Practically, elections cannot be held at a time of security and political detentions of Hamas members in the West Bank and the lack of the necessary atmosphere to ensure the integrity of elections," he added.
In July, Hamas canceled voter registration in Gaza a day before the process was due to begin, citing a lack of public freedoms in the West Bank as an obstacle to free and fair elections, among other complaints.