Elections for local councils in Palestinian Authority
Photo: AP
West Bank elections see 50% voter turnout
PA's first municipal elections in six years fail to garner public's interest. Hamas boycotts vote; Palestinian PM: It's wrong to hold civilians hostage
The Palestinian Authority held its elections for local councils on Saturday, but despite the fact that they were held for the first time in six years, only 50% of Palestinians exercised their right to vote.


Fatah's longtime rivalry with Hamas led to the latter to boycotting the elections all together and ballots were placed in the West Bank only, while Gaza was excluded.


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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who voted near Ramallah, avoided directly accusing Hamas of sabotaging the elections.


"These elections are a celebration of democracy, it is unfortunate that they are not held all over the Palestinian lands. We hope that in the future they will include Jerusalem and Gaza. We chose to focus on the future and not cast blame, as there can be no other way to rule but through democracy and ballots,"he said. 


Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad was less diplomatic and said: "Hamas used baseless excuses in order to deprive the people in Gaza from exercising their right to vote, claiming the elections widen the rift. It is wrong to hold civilians as hostages." 


Fayyad said Hamas is politically accountable for preventing Gazans exercising their right to vote.


Hamas claimed that in light of the economic situation the elections are "a fraud" and are not assisting in uniting the West Bank and Gaza.



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