Some 148,000 Palestinian eligible voters headed on Thursday to the ballot boxes to cast their votes as the fourth round of the Palestinian municipal elections was held in 42 Palestinian constituencies, the bulk of which in the West Bank.
Four main Palestinian cities, including Nablus, Jenin, Ramallah, and El-Bireh and their environs were included in the process, while three Gaza Strip localities were also included in this round.
Nablus city topped the number of voters as some 50,000 people were entitled to cast their votes amidst intense rivalry between the change and reform bloc of Hamas, and the Ghad (tomorrow) coalition of Fatah Movement. Polls ahead of the vote predicted a landslide victory for Hamas in Nablus, Ramallah, and El-Bireh.
Meanwhile, imprisoned Fatah senior leader, Marwan Al-Barghouti, has decided to form a separate list for Fatah candidates to race in the upcoming legislative elections. Al-Barghouti's list included senior leaders from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, including Palestinian Civil Affairs Minister Mohammed Dahlan and senior Palestinian security advisor Jibril Rajoub.
A number of Barghouti's associates, including his wife Fadwa, Palestinian parliament member Kadoura Fares, Dahlan and senior Fatah official in Gaza Samir Masharawi arrived at the Ramallah election headquarters and submitted a list of candidates, just one hour before the election deadline. The new party is called Al Mustaqbal (i.e. The Future).
Sources said he decided to form the new list as a protest on both the resolutions of the Central Elections Commission which ignored the results of Fatah primary elections in several areas, and on the list which formed by Fatah Movement, RNA reported. Al-Barghouti has won West Bank primary elections conducted by Fatah, but veteran Fatah leaders, led by Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, tried to insert old guard figures in the list ahead of the younger leaders, setting off the rebellion.
Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas has recently warned of forming any "alternative" list.
Marwan Al-Barghouti, 44, is a prominent Fatah leader who enjoys a strong influence on Fatah's new generation. He was arrested by the Israeli troops three years ago and was sentenced to five life terms in an Israeli prison.
Meanwhile, the official Fatah list of candidates for January's legislative elections has been presented to the Central Elections Commission (CEC) Wednesday before midnight. Palestinian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Nasser al-Kidwa, presented the list, which includes 66 candidates.
Chairman of the CEC Dr. Hanna Nasser told a press conference in Ramallah that the Commission has received all the candidacy applications. He added that the number of candidates has reached 400.