Abbas excludes Hamas movement from Palestinian elections
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas on Wednesday issued a decree that effectively excludes the rival Hamas movement from elections.
The decree makes changes to electoral law, including requiring candidates in presidential and legislative elections "to respect the political programme of the PLO," according to the text of the signed decree, cited by AFP. It also requires candidates to respect all previous agreements signed by the Palestinian Authority.
Abbas' decree also says that all parliament candidates will be chosen according to party lists. Previously, half of those standing for the legislature were chosen in single constituencies. The requirement makes it easier for candidates from Abbas' Fatah party to run in the Gaza Strip, which has been under control of Hamas since mid-June.
On Wednesday, Abbas repeated his demand for "Hamas to correct their mistakes and change their positions to reunite the Palestinian people and give them hope for the future."
Abbas insisted on the "unity of the Palestinian territories, as this division cannot be but temporary. The Palestinian people reject this division and want a unified state."
However, Hamas quickly lashed out at Abbas, saying the changes to the electoral law were illegal. "The Palestinian president has no right to make changes to Palestinian law as only parliament can do so," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told AFP.
"We are not concerned by this move as it goes against the law," he said. "There is no chance that elections can be successful if Hamas rejects them. What we must do first is return to dialogue and national agreement."