(AFP) – Aug 22, 2011
RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories — The Palestinian Authority has indefinitely postponed local elections which had been expected to take place in October in the West Bank, a minister told AFP on Monday.
"President (Mahmud) Abbas issued a decree postponing the local elections indefinitely to pave the way for internal Palestinian reconciliation," local government minister Khaled al-Qawasmi told AFP.
Local elections had originally been scheduled for July 9 but following a surprise reconciliation deal between Abbas' Fatah and the rival Hamas movement which was signed in early May, the date was put back to October 22.
As the deal struggled to get off the ground, Palestinian officials told AFP in July that local elections would be limited to the West Bank as Hamas was hampering preparations for the vote in Gaza.
In response, Hamas had accused Fatah of failing to reform the Central Elections Commission -- a condition of the reconciliation deal.
Hamas and Fatah have been at loggerheads for years but their rivalry turned bloody in 2007, when the Islamists forced Fatah out of the Gaza Strip.
In early May, they signed a surprise unity deal, saying they would jointly appoint an interim government of independents to prepare for general elections within a year.
But efforts to implement the deal have so far led nowhere, with each side blaming the other for an impasse caused by a disagreement over who will be interim prime minister.
The last time the Palestinians went to the polls was for parliamentary elections in 2006, which Hamas won by a landslide.
New parliamentary and presidential elections had been due to be held in January 2010 but the Palestinian Authority abandoned efforts to hold a vote after Hamas refused to organise one in Gaza.
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