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Abbas postpones Palestinian vote

BBC News Online
4 June 2005

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4609425.stm

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has announced that parliamentary
elections set for 17 July will be postponed.

In a public decree, he said he wanted to allow more time to resolve
a dispute over changes to the election law.

Mr Abbas said a new date would be set after talks with the
Palestinian factions and law makers.

The move has been condemned by militant group Hamas, which
correspondents say had been poised to do well in its first run at a
legislative poll.

The group had made a strong showing in recent local elections, and
some observers say it could challenge the ruling Fatah party`s
dominance of the parliament.

`Violated agreement`

Mr Abbas did not set a new date for the election, but Palestinian
officials have talked about a delay of several months.

The dispute stalling the vote is over the method by which candidates
would be selected.

The postponement will please many in Mr Abbas` Fatah party because
they want more time to prepare for the poll, the BBC`s Barbara Plett
reports from Jerusalem.

The movement is in disarray and tarnished by a reputation for
corruption and inefficiency, our correspondent says.

The election date was part of a broader agreement between Mr Abbas
and the factions that included a ceasefire.

Hamas had earlier threatened to re-think the truce if the date was
changed.

`We consider this decision as a violation for all the Palestinian
understandings and national agreements,` Hamas spokesman Sami Abu
Zuhri said, according to the Associated Press news agency.
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