West Bank to vote in long-delayed polls

West Bank to vote in long-delayed polls

RAMALLAH - Agence France-Presse
Palestinians in the West Bank are set to go to the polls on Oct. 20 for the first time in nearly seven years, casting their ballots in local elections.

But the long-delayed vote is only scheduled to be held in the West Bank, with the first stage of voting to take place in 91 of the territory’s 353 municipalities. In another 181 localities, candidates were appointed unopposed, with elections to be held in the remaining areas at a date which has yet to be set, the Central Elections Commission (CEC) said.

The last time the Palestinians went to the polls was in January 2006 for general elections which were decisively won by the Islamist Hamas movement, which rules the Gaza Strip, and which is refusing to take part in Oct. 20’s vote. Local elections were last held in 2005.

Oct. 20’s vote will see nearly 4,700 candidates, 25 percent of them women, on 300 lists vying for 1,000 local council seats, the CEC says. In the southern city of Hebron, one of the lists is all-female.

In the absence of Hamas candidates, the competition pits Fatah against independents and members of various leftist groups such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP).

The election comes after weeks of public discontent over the rising cost of living, with much of the discontent direct at Fayyad and his government.