Hamas threatens to break truce as Abbas considers delaying poll

Posted in Israel / Palestine | 24-May-05 | Author: Donald Macintyre| Source: The Independent

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas gestures during a news conference

The Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, may be forced to delay key parliamentary elections after the Electoral Commission said there was not enough time to prepare if they were to be held under a new poll law.

The declaration is a blow to Mr Abbas, who said recently that the elections - the first for the Palestinian legislative council since 1996 - would be held on the scheduled date of 17 July. The delay could provoke a feud with Hamas, which condemned the declaration last night, warning it would press the Palestinian Authority to reject the delay.

The election law has been delayed by a fractious row within the legislative council and within Fatah over whether the polls should be held on a national proportional system, as Mr Abbas says, or on a mixed constituency and list system.

Hassan Yusef, a prominent Hamas official said: "We strongly reject this postponement, which is done according to narrow factional interests. Hamas [wants] to put an end to the hegemony of one party. This [delay] will maintain corruption."

The row comes after Fatah challenged local election victories in Gaza. Hamas has threatened to pull out of the four-month-old truce with Israel if it sustains the challenge, and it called last night for protests against Fatah's attempts to overturn the results.