MIDEAST: Palestinian security forces begin voting for the Legislative Council Elections in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Arab East Jerusalem.Record ID: 687457
- Title: MIDEAST: Palestinian security forces begin voting for the Legislative Council Elections in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Arab East Jerusalem.
- Date: 22nd January 2006
- Summary: (W3) JERUSALEM (JANUARY 21, 2006) (REUTERS) EXTERIOR OF HOTEL WHERE EUROPEAN UNION MONITORS ARE BASED CLOSE UP OF EUROPEAN UNION FLAG VERONIQUE DE KEYSER, HEAD OF EU OBSERVER MISSION, TALKING WITH COLLEAGUE (SOUNDBITE) (English) VERONIQUE DE KEYSER, HEAD OF EU OBSERVER MISSION, SAYING: "This is an important day for us, for our mission here from the EU, because what we call short-term observers, who arrived yesterday have to be deployed today in all of West Bank and in East Jerusalem, so they are leaving today. It's also an important day because in East Jerusalem the residents, the Palestinian residents have to sign in order to be able to vote, so some of the observers were already in the field this morning to observe these first preparations of the East Jerusalem vote, and other ones will go this afternoon immediately in many districts to observe the vote of the security forces."
- Reuters ID: LVABMMV9TOA4OPK64R8ZQFVW0QUC
- Duration: 00:01:05
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Story Text: Palestinian security forces across the West bank and Gaza voted in the Legislative Council election on Saturday (January 21), casting ballots early to free them for duty in the main poll next week, the first to be contested by the militant group Hamas.
Some 60,000 members of the security forces are eligible to vote from Saturday to Monday, before the Jan. 25 election when Palestinian civilians will vote in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Arab East Jerusalem.
The elections are held under the monitoring of European Union observers deployed in the Palestinian territories.
"Some of the observers were already in the field this morning to observe these first preparations of the East Jerusalem vote, and other ones will go this afternoon immediately in many districts to observe the vote of the security forces," Veronique De Keyser, head of the EU observers mission, said at a Jerusalem hotel, where the observers are based.
Ballot boxes will be kept in polling stations under police protection until after the civilian polls close for the 132-member Palestinian Legislative Council.
"So far, everything is going well. Everything is taking place in an orderly manner and as requested by the Palestinian Central Committee," said Rami Hamdallah, Deputy Chairman of The Palestinian Central Election Committee.
Two separate polls showed Hamas close behind President Mahmoud Abbas's ruling Fatah faction. One poll showed Hamas taking 30.2 percent against 32.3 percent for Fatah. Another gave Hamas 35 percent and Fatah 42 percent.
Hamas has grown in popularity as much for its anti-corruption credentials and charity network as for its suicide bombing campaign and vow to destroy Israel.
Fatah, struggling to cope with growing lawlessness particularly since Israel's pullout from the Gaza Strip last year, has been weakened by infighting between an old guard, younger leaders and gunmen seeking greater power.
Among voters was Zakaria al-Zubaidi, a West Bank leader of militant group al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades that is part of Fatah.
Zubaidi, who is wanted by Israel, said he is a member of the Palestinian security forces. "We felt that our Palestinian people are able to enter into any (new) phase," Zubaidi said outside a polling station in the West Bank town of Jenin.
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