1 October 2023 |Reference 62/2023
Following recent developments in the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT), Palestinian factions have finally agreed to hold local elections in the Gaza Strip, in conjunction with those in the West Bank. The readiness to proceed with local elections was confirmed by the invitation extended by main Palestinian factions, led by Fatah and Hamas, to the Palestinian Central Election Commission to visit Gaza.
The Central Election Commission Chairman, Dr. Hanna Nasser, and other members of the Commission visited Gaza in recent days and met with the local factions, who insisted on the need to hold local elections as soon as possible. Dr. Nasser and Commission members also met with the Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO) and other Gaza-based human rights organizations, who also emphasized the importance of not missing this opportunity and speeding up the process.
The Central Election Commission stated that it is fully prepared to take all necessary steps required for local elections as soon as the Council of Ministers sets the date. Indeed, according to Palestinian electoral law, it is the Council of Ministers that decides the date of the elections. Consequently, and considering the popular and national consensus on the need to hold local elections in the Gaza Strip without any delay, Al Mezan calls on the Palestinian Council of Ministers to issue a decision as soon as possible, especially since the preparation of the electoral process requires at least three months ahead of the election day.
Al Mezan reminds that the right to take part in the conduct of public affairs, including the right to vote and to stand for election, is at the core of democratic governments based on the will of the people. Considering the deteriorating economic and social conditions in Gaza, holding elections for local governing bodies becomes an urgent and absolute necessity. Elected local councils, which enjoy the trust of the citizens, can facilitate effective communication between the local authorities and the population, thus making it possible to overcome obstacles and difficulties in the provision of essential services.
The implications of the holding of local elections go far beyond the impact on local governing bodies and their work. Holding elections is a message of hope for the population, a sign of progress towards the end of Palestinian political divisions, the reunification of national institutions, and the restoration of democratic values as a fundamental component of the Palestinian political system. Lastly, while Al Mezan remains committed to ensuring that elections are held, it calls on political parties, professional trade unions and civic institutions to step up their efforts to ensure that local elections are held and to work together to speed up the Cabinet's decision to set a date for local elections.
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