October 28, 2009 - 12:00am

The Islamic Hamas movement which rules the Gaza Strip said Wednesday it would not allow presidential or parliamentary elections to take place in the salient on January 24, as called for by Ramallah-based President Mahmoud Abbas.

A statement by the Hamas ministry of the interior said the ban was because the election had been called "by figures who do not have the right to declare it" and because the polling would take place without a reconciliation deal between Hamas and Abbas' Fatah movement.

Abbas announced Friday that elections would be held on January 24,
the end of the four-year term of the Palestinian Legislative Council.

The 2006 elections saw Hamas triumph over Fatah, leading to bitter tensions between the two movements, which culminated in the June 2007 Hamas rout of security forces loyal to Abbas in the Gaza Strip, and the takeover of the salient by the Islamist group.

Abbas responded to the takeover by dismissing the Fatah-Hamas unity government, but the Islamic movement continues to control the Gaza Strip while an Abbas-appointed government rules in the West Bank.

Efforts to reconcile Hamas with Fatah have so far failed and Hamas said Friday that Abbas' election decree was aimed at deepening the Palestinian political rift.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017