Palestinian president announces new election law
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said on Sunday that his office had published an amended electoral law that could effectively exclude Hamas from any future polls.
"The new election law has been published," Abbas told reporters during a joint press conference with visiting EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana. Rafiq al-Husseini, chief of staff of Abbas' office, told AFP that "the decree was already signed, but we are publishing it today."
Last month, Abbas' office said the president was mulling changing the law to require candidates in presidential and parliamentary elections "to respect the political programme of the PLO" and to respect all previous agreements signed by the Palestinian Authority.
With Abbas' decree, Palestinians will now vote solely for party lists, while district voting will be eliminated. Hamas swept parliamentary elections last year in large part because of a strong showing at the district level.
Hamas slammed the move by Abbas as "illegal." "The president doesn't have the right to make any changes to the law," said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri. "He cannot conduct elections if Hamas doesn't accept them.
"Hamas will not accept any early elections and any elections without Hamas will not have any meaning."