Possible scenarios for election crisis after failed reconciliation

15:34, October 23, 2009      

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by Emad Drimly, Saud Abu Ramadan

The recent declaration of President Mahmoud Abbas to go for elections on January 25, in response to the failure of reaching a reconciliation pact, had brought controversy among the Palestinians on the viability of this step and its expected scenarios.

Abbas' recent declaration to hold elections on time was made after his bitter rival Hamas hasn't yet signed the Egyptian-drafted pact for reconciliation.

Hamas has been asking for amending some points of the draft, while Fatah unilaterally signed on the pact with no reservations.

According to the amended Palestinian constitution, the four-year terms for the president and the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) end on the night of January 24. The Palestinian National Authority (PNA) president should issue a decree to confirm the election's date three month before it is held.

TWO CONTRADICTORY VIEWS

The Palestinian scene is divided into two contradictory views, the first calls for holding elections on time as a constitutional merit and a major solution for the current rift between Fatah and Hamas.

Rajab Abu Serreya, a Gaza-based political analyst told Xinhua that President Abbas will most likely issue a decree on October 25to announce holding the presidential and legislative elections on January 25.

The second view warns of the consequences of holding the elections before reaching a reconciliation agreement, and considers holding the elections amid the current feuds would deepen the rift.

"It (holding the elections before reaching a reconciliation) would deepen split among the Palestinians and would offer legitimacy to nobody," said Hani Habib, a Gaza-based think tank.

The differences of the views over holding the elections on time or postpone it, had emerged as Egypt set up October 25 as a date for signing the reconciliation pact, which calls for holding the elections on June 28 next year after Palestinian factions implement the pact.

ABBAS PLANS

Abu Serreya expected that Abbas would call for holding the elections depending on the full proportional system "to avoid Hamas' attempts to block the elections, while guaranteeing the participation of other factions which support his decision."

"According to his earlier statements, Abbas is convinced that holding the elections on time has become the only exit and solution for the current split," said Abu Serreya, adding "if there is no election on time, Abbas and his authority will be illegal."

Abbas is facing pressure from some figures in his Fatah movement to hold the elections upon its constitutional time, at the same time, he is also facing pressure from Egypt and Hamas to postpone the elections for another six months to give the internal dialogue an opportunity.

"Although not holding the general elections on time would be a violation of the Palestinian constitution, postponing it for another six months would keep the door open for reaching a national reconciliation," said Habib.

  FOUR SCENARIOS

Palestinian observers say there are four possible scenarios for holding the elections, the first scenario is to stand for election as one consolidated list of all Palestine Liberation Organization's (PLO) factions, the list will include candidates from Gaza, West Bank and East Jerusalem.

According to those who support this scenario, this would put Hamas movement, which controls the Gaza Strip, in an embarrassing position and will show it as the illegal power which prevents the enclave's population from voting.

This scenario is opposed by some figures from Fatah and other factions, who believe that this would make Hamas to hold its own elections in the Gaza Strip.

The second scenario is that Abbas would issue on October 25 a decree to hold the elections on January 25, then within the coming three months, Fatah and Hamas might reach a reconciliation deal, and then Abbas will issue another decree deciding that elections be postponed until June 28, 2010.

The third scenario is that Abbas issues a decree on October 25 to hold the elections on January 25, but before going to the ballots, Abbas would issue another decree saying that elections are postponed till a further notice, or till a reconciliation agreement is reached.

Those who support this scenario say the mandate of the president and the PLC does not end unless a new elected president and PLC are sworn in. However, those who oppose this scenario believe that this will be a yield to Hamas' demand to postpone the elections after two years.

The fourth scenario is that Abbas calls for holding the elections in the West Bank and East Jerusalem on January 25 without Hamas' participation, and leave an opportunity for the Gaza Strip to hold the elections later on to fulfill the seats into the PLC.

Palestinian officials say that all these scenarios will be on the table of the PLO central council that will convene on Saturday for debates. If the Palestinians fail to agree on holding the elections, then the PLO council will choose one of the four scenarios or choose another alternative to the crisis.

Source: Xinhua
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