EU supports Palestinian general elections: Official

Ramallah, Jan 17 (IANS): A European Union (EU) official announced the bloc's support for the Palestinian legislative polls scheduled for May 22 and the presidential elections slated to take place on July 31.

Shadi Othman, an EU communication official in Jerusalem, told Xinhua news agency on Saturday that the bloc is ready to support the Palestinian Central Elections Commission (PCEC) and provide the required assistance for the upcoming elections.

The EU will communicate with all relevant parties "to make the Palestinian elections successful", he said.

The bloc was a significant supporter in the previous Palestinian elections and has always called for periodic Palestinian elections, Othman added.

Its position is to hold the general Palestinian elections in all the Palestinian territories, including the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem, he noted.

"Israel must respect the agreements and enable the Palestinian citizen to participate, whether as candidates or voters," Othman said.

On Friday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas issued a presidential decree that sets May 22 for the legislative elections, July 31 for the presidential elections and August 31 for the National Council elections.

In an announcement also on Saturday, PCEC chief Hana Nasser said that 2 million Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem are eligible to vote in the upcoming elections.

He added that Palestinians over 18 years old across its territories "should be able to vote freely or become candidates".

People "can start from now registering and updating their records for the elections", Nasser said.

The last parliamentary elections were held in the Palestinian territories in late 2006, where the Hamas movement won a majority.

In 2005, Abbas was elected as the President of the Palestinian Authority.



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