|PCHR Calls for Reconciliation and an End to the Ongoing Fragmentation beforethe Organization of Palestinian Elections|
|Wednesday, 11 July 2012 10:14|
Yesterday, the Cabinet of the Palestinian Government, headed by Dr. Salam Fayad in Ramallah, published a press release stating that the Council of Ministers approved the decision to organize local elections in different Palestinian governorates on 20 October 2012. In the press release, the Council of Ministers instructed the Central Elections Committee to make the necessary arrangements in order to organize the elections on time. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) reiterates its rejection of the organization of any elections, whether presidential and PLC or local, in light of the ongoing politicalfragmentation. PCHR calls for the provision of conditions to ensurean environment appropriate for the organization of transparent and fair elections that express the will of Palestinian voters.
Palestinian local elections were organized for the majority of local councils at different stages between December 2004 and December 2005; thus the legal term of these councils expired between December 2008 and December 2009. Since then, it has not been possible to organize new elections due to the ongoing fragmentation of the PA since 2007. During the past few years, the 2 governments in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip have appointed new local councils directly, including representatives whose term had expired or in councils where they were not elected.
This decision to organize local elections is the third of its type in less than 3 years. On 08 February 2010, the Cabinet of the Palestinian Government in Ramallah called for elections in 327 local councils in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip on 17 July 2010.On 25 April 2010, the Cabinet cancelled its decision to organize local elections in the Gaza Strip,as the Central Elections Committee was unable to implement the elections in Gaza due to the political fragmentation. Later, on 10 June 2010, the Cabinet issued a decision to cancel the local elections in the West Bank.
The second decision was issued by the Cabinet on 08 February 2012 to organize local elections in 320 local councils in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip on 09 July 2011.On 17 May 2011, the Cabinet issued a decision to postpone the organization of the local elections,as the Central Elections Committee was unable to organize the elections due to the ongoing fragmentation. In the same decision, the Cabinet scheduled 22 October 2011 for the organization of local elections in the West Bank. On 22 August2011, President Abbas issued a Presidential Decree postponing the organizations of the elections.The Decree stipulates that: “The organization of elections of local council which are scheduled to be organized on 22 October 2011 shall be postponed till appropriate conditions are available to organize these elections in all governorates of the country.”In the preamble of this Decree, it was noted that the decision to postpone the formation of the government was taken in hopes that it would contribute to putting an end to the ongoing Palestinian fragmentation, achieving national reconciliation and supporting national and Arab efforts to end the fragmentation, as well as providing an appropriate atmosphere for achieving these objectives.
In view of the above, PCHR stresses the following:
1. The pressing priority at this time is the achievement of Palestinian reconciliation and putting an end to the ongoing political fragmentation,which affects all elements of the Palestinian cause. PCHR reiterates that it is impossible to organize any elections, whether presidential and PLC or local, in the light of the ongoing fragmentation, due to the lack of conditions to ensure an environment appropriate for the organization of transparent and fair elections that express the will of Palestinian voters;
2. Its total support for the democratic transition process in the PA. Democracy requires, inter alia, the organization of transparent and fair elections that allow people to select those who will represent them, and who are subject to accountability;
3. Elections have never been an objective; however, they are part of a comprehensive democratic process. The organization of any general or local election requires the provision of conditions necessary to organize transparent and fair elections that reflect the will of voters. These conditions include, in particular, the enforcement of public freedoms, including the right to freedom of opinion and expression, the right to peaceful assembly, the right to form associations, the release of political detainees, the lifting of the ban on political activities and allowing the media to work freely; and
4. It is impossible to organize any elections without ensuringall necessary judicial guarantees or without the existence of a unified and independent judicial authority, which includes a court competent to consider disputes relating to elections. All competitors must acknowledge that this court is independent and neutral for fair elections.
 For more information about PCHR’s position on the decision to organize the local elections, please see PCHR’s position paper titled: “Position Paper: On the Call for Local Elections in Palestinian Authority Territories in July 2010,” published on 18 February 2012.
For more information about PCHR's position on the Cabinet decision to cancel local elections, please see PCHR press release: “PCHR Welcomes Decision to Cancel Local Election Due to the Lack of Appropriate Conditions for Fair Elections,” published on 15 June 2010, reference no.: 47/2010.
For more information about PCHR's position on the decision to organize the local elections in 2011, please see “Position Paper: Palestinian Elections in Light of the Ongoing Fragmentation,” published on 10 February 2011.
 For more information, please see: “PCHR Welcomes President's Decision to Postpone Elections of Local Councils,” 24 August 2011, ref: 89/2011.
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