ADDS HAMAS' STATEMENT ON ELECTIONS
By Zehra Nur Duz and Merve Berker
ANKARA (AA) – Palestinians are set to have parliamentary, presidential and National Council polls elections this spring and summer, ending a 14-year spell without votes, under a decree signed Friday by the Palestinian president.
Parliamentary elections will be held May 22, presidential elections July 31 and Palestinian National Council elections Aug. 31.
Mahmoud Abbas held a ceremonial signing of the decree while meeting with Hanna Nasser, chairman of the Central Elections Commission (CEC), at the presidential headquarters in Ramallah in the West Bank, Palestine’s official WAFA news agency reported.
Palestinian resistance group Hamas welcomed the announcement in a statement.
It is important that these elections are successful in a way that will ensure the interests of the Palestinian people, who have the absolute right to elect their leaders and representatives, it said.
It noted that a decent and free electoral environment should be prepared so that the electorate can express its own will unconditionally, without any pressure.
Hamas stressed that to rebuild the Palestinian political system, agree on a comprehensive national strategy against Israel and achieve all of it, a comprehensive national dialogue in which all Palestinians participate without exception must be accelerated.
The two Palestinian groups Hamas and Fatah have been at odds since Hamas seized the Gaza Strip from its rival in 2007, but last September they met in Turkey and agreed to parliamentary and presidential elections.
On Dec. 31, Hamas senior leader Ismail Haniyeh sent Abbas an official letter on ending the division and holding general elections in Palestinian territories.