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PCHR Follows up with Concern Ramallah High Court’s Decision to Suspend Local Council Elections Next Month

Ref: 43/2016

 

 

Ramallah High Court decided to temporarily suspend the local council elections scheduled on 08 October 2016. The decision was taken on grounds of a lawsuit demanding the suspension of the elections because they will not be held in Jerusalem and because of the approval given to Gaza courts to consider the electoral objections.

 

This decision comes in light of other updates relevant to the electoral process that included decisions of the Central Elections Commission (CEC) and Gaza courts of first instance to cancel electoral lists on grounds of objections submitted against a number of candidates in electoral lists.

 

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) follows up with deep concern these developments that would undermine and jeopardize the whole electoral process.

 

Ramallah High Court issued a decision today suspending the local council elections that are scheduled on 08 October 2016. The decision reads the following, “The administrative decision shall take the homeland en bloc. As the elections were obstructed in Jerusalem and because of the procedural hurdles in Gaza, a decision was taken to defer the elections.”  The Court is supposed to hold another session on 21 September 2016 to resume considering the case.

 

Previously, Khan Yunis Court of First Instance cancelled today morning five electoral lists affiliated to Fateh movement in five local councils in both of Khan Yunis and Rafah cities, south of the Gaza Strip. The cancelled lists were in the local councils of Khan Yunis, Abasan, al-Qarara, al-Fokhari and al-Shoka.

 

It should be noted that on 04 September, CEC cancelled five electoral lists in the local councils of Beit Hanoun, Um al-Nasser, al-Zahra and al-Nusairat in the Gaza Strip and Yatta in the West Bank after CEC had approved some objections to some candidates in those lists. The four lists cancelled in Gaza were affiliated to Fateh “Liberality and Construction” Bloc.

 

In view of the above, PCHR stresses the following:

 

  1. We are fully aware of the complications relevant to the judiciary, therefore, we highlight the unconstitutionality and unlawfulness of the measures taken by the former government’s judiciary in Gaza. However, we welcomed the understanding reached between Gaza and Ramallah and the approval to allow Gaza courts to consider the electoral disputes, taking in consideration that the split and its consequences is a policy par excellence and the reconciliation can be only achieved upon a political decision.
  2. In spite of all of these consequent developments, there is still a chance to move forward in the electoral process if a political decision is taken by all parties. This requires:
  3. Dropping the case filed before the High Court and keeping the agreement on allowing Gaza courts to consider the electoral objections according to the aforementioned political understanding.
  4. CEC should withdraw its decision related to cancelling electoral lists and cancel only the names of candidates against whom objections were submitted.
  5. This applies to decisions issued by Gaza courts also, as an electoral list shall not be considered null and void if a candidate is dropped.
  6. Suspending the elections under the pretext they are obstructed in Jerusalem is unjustifiable, especially as the local council elections in 2004-2005 and in 2012-2013 were held in the West Bank, excluding Jerusalem.