UPDATE FROM THE ELECTRONIC INTIFADA
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Opinion/Editorial YET ANOTHER HISTORIC DAY Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 9 January 2005
Once again, the media and the international peace process industry have declared that it is an “historic day” for the Palestinian people. The occasion this time is the election of Mahmoud Abbas as head of the Palestinian Authority in the occupied territories. EI co-founder Ali Abunimah reflects that in the ghost-written screenplay that the Palestinians are being forced to act out, the election is “good news.” This means that any information that interferes with this agreed narrative that we are at the cusp of a new era of peace, democracy and reform has to be carefully filtered out of public view.
ARJAN EL FASSED REPORTS FROM GAZA
EI’s Arjan El Fassed is currently on the ground in Gaza as an accredited international election observer. His reportage for the Electronic Intifada’s diaries section, “Live from Palestine”, and Development section covers the 24-hours from election eve to the close of polls.
GAZA ON THE EVE OF THE ELECTIONS 8 January 2005
Arjan El Fassed talks to Palestinians in the occupied Gaza Strip on the eve of the election for president of the Palestinian Authority.
ELECTION DAY POLLS OPEN IN GAZA 9 January 2005
“It looks like Eid,” someone tells me. Indeed, it is a sunny day in the northern part of the Gaza Strip. In the early morning at some of the polling centers Gazans slowly show up. Members of the Central Election Commission are ready for the day. Boxes are sealed in front of the very few international observers in this part of the Gaza Strip. Local observers, including volunteers from various human rights organizations and party affiliates, are waiting to see what is going to happen.
ELECTION IRREGULARITIES: CONFUSION AND CHAOS AFTER CHANGE OF ELECTION RULES 9 January 2005
At around 5 P.M., the Central Elections Commission allowed Palestinians to vote solely based on their identity cards, without any need to check them against the electoral register or census list. This caused many Palestinians who were not registered to vote to enter polling centers. EI’s Arjan El Fassed witnessed confused voters and chaotic scenes. Adding to the confusion, Palestinian police allowed anyone to enter polling stations. These could have lead to voter fraud, since voters would be able to vote twice without being checked against the population registry.
ELECTION DAY PROCESS AND IRREGULARITIES
During election day, additionally EI posted press releases from the official Palestinian Central Election Commission, human rights and activist organisations observing the elections on the ground, and a candidate’s campaign team, in order to provide visitors with the widest possible perspective of developments on the ground as a supplement to mainstream news coverage. These are presented in approximate chronological order below as we posted them during the day. Many thanks to Rob Maguire www.projectcommunis.org for providing the photos which illustrate many of our election day articles.
Development ELECTION IRREGULARITIES: PALESTINIAN CIVILIANS STILL BEING DENIED ACCESS TO AL-MAWASI IN GAZA Press Release, Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, 8 January 2005
8 January 2005, 14:00 GMT ˜ PCHR is gravely concerned that at least 180 residents of al-Mawasi area in the southern Gaza Strip have been prevented from traveling back to their homes in the area by Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF). This measure will further increase the suffering of these Palestinians, as it particularly deprives them of participation in the Palestinian presidential election on Sunday, 9 January 2005.
Human Rights ELECTION IRREGULARITIES: ISRAELI CLAIMS OF MILITARY WITHDRAWAL FROM WEST BANK A FABRICATION Report, PCHR, 8 January 2005
Despite claims by the Israeli military, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights report that Israeli occupation forces have continued positioning forces at stable military checkpoints erected at the entrances to the major towns, and have also erected a number of sudden military checkpoints at the main crossroads on the eve of the Palestinian presidential election. In Nablus, Israeli forces maintained their presence at Beit Eiba checkpoint, Hawara and Za’tara and Beit Furik. They also continued to close several roads. Israeli forces remained also in other areas of the West Bank.
Development ELECTION IRREGULARITIES: ‘INDELIBLE’ INK USED TO PREVENT DOUBLE-VOTING WASHES OFF EASILY Press Release, Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi Campaign, 9 January 2005
9 January 2005, 9:18 a.m. local time ˜ Palestinian presidential candidate Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi has just found out from contacts in Gaza and three voting centers in the West Bank that the indelible ink with which all who have cast their ballots are marked in order to ensure that they only vote once, and to ensure no double voting, can in fact be wiped out with saliva or washing.
Development ELECTION IRREGULARITIES: ISRAELI RESTRICTIONS DELAY JERUSALEM VOTES UNTIL 12:30PM Press Release, International Solidarity Movement, 9 January 2005
January 9, 2005 ˜ At approximately, 12:30 PM today, five-and-a-half hours after the opening of polling stations, the first Palestinian voter succeeded in casting a ballot at the Jaffa Gate post office in the old city of East Jerusalem. Israeli-imposed obstacles to voting at the Jaffa Gate polling station typify the problems Palestinians are experiencing as they attempt to conduct democratic elections under Israeli occupation. The Israeli government is attempting to limit Palestinian voting in East Jerusalem in particular as part of an attempt to deny Palestinian rights and identity there.
Development PCHR PUBLISHES AN EVALUATION REPORT ON ELECTION CAMPAIGN CONDUCT Press Release, Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, 9 January 2005
Today, 9 January 2005, PCHR has published a report evaluating the election campaign for the Palestinian presidential election and related violations of the regulations prescribed by the electoral law concerning this campaign. The report examines the commitment of candidates and related parties with the regulations prescribed by the electoral law during the official period of the election campaign, 25 December 2004 ˆ 7 January 2005. The report is part of the effort to monitor all stages of Palestinian elections by PCHR in cooperation with 26 Palestinian civil society groups throughout the Gaza Strip.
Development CEC: SOME OBSTACLES FACING THE POLLING PROCESS Press Release, Central Election Commission, 9 January 2005
CEC Media Section, 9 January 13.30h ˜ Six hours after opening the opening of polls, Palestinian voters continue to pour into polling centers to cast their votes, despite the failure of the Israeli authorities to deliver on their promises to facilitate the movement of the voters to allow their participation in the electoral process. Some voters, particularly those on the civil registry, have not found their names on the register at the polling centres they have attended. Therefore, we urge voters to check the location of their designated polling centers, and go to vote there.
Development CEC: POLLING CENTERS OPENING HOURS EXTENDED Press Release, Central Election Commission, 9 January 2005
The CEC has extended opening hours for polling centers in all electoral districts by 2 hours. Polling centers will now remain open until 9PM. The CEC took this step after determining that limitations on the movement of Palestinians within and between Palestinian towns continue to be imposed by the Israeli Occupation Army. Obstacles such as checkpoints and military closures have remained in place despite previous Israeli statements that they would be lifted during the Palestinian Presidential Elections to allow for free, fair and transparent elections.
Development ELECTION IRREGULARITIES: PCHR LODGES APPEAL WITH ELECTION COURT AGAINST CEC DECISION Press Release, Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, 9 January 2005
9 January 2005, 20:00 GMT ˜ The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights has, tonight, lodged an appeal with the Palestinian Election Appeals Court against the decision by the Central Election Commission to allow citizens to vote with their Palestinian identity cards, even if their names were not on the electoral register. In its appeal, which will be heard on Monday the 10th of December at 1000hrs (GMT), PCHR has asked the Court to issue a clear judgment canceling the decision by the CEC to allow citizens to vote with their identity cards and to annul all the legal consequences which arise from this.
Development CEC: END OF POLLING Press Release, Central Election Commission, 9 January 2005
The CEC has completed the polling process for the 2005 Presidential Election, and is able to present some information about voter turnout for the poll. The Head of the Electoral Commission, Dr Hanna Nasir, released that information to the media this evening in Ramallah. “Approximately seventy per cent of registered voters voted today,” said Dr Nasir, “While approximately only ten per cent of unregistered voters turned out.” A total of around 700,000 registered voters were joined at the polls by around 70,000 unregistered voters, including 30,000 who registered on arrival at the polling centres on election day.
Development ELECTION IRREGULARITIES: MUSTAFA BARGHOUTHI CAMPAIGN ALLEGES “SERIOUS” ELECTION VIOLATIONS Press Release, Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi Campaign, 9 January 2005
Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, Palestinian presidential candidate, held a press conference at 7:30 pm on the evening of January 9, 2005, the day of the Palestinian presidential elections. At around 5:00 pm, Dr. Barghouthi and his campaigners found out via the media and word of mouth that the election rules and procedures had been changed. Neither he nor his campaign were officially informed. The changes were: 1. The voting process was prolonged for two additional hours. 2. The rules and procedures were changed such that people who were not registered in the elections registry were suddenly allowed to vote, which opened up the possibility of double or multiple voting.
For more Palestinian Presidential Elections 2005 coverage:
EI’S BY TOPIC SPECIAL SECTION ON THE PALESTINIAN ELECTIONS
EI will continue to cover the unfolding election story, with a particular focus on the matter of the turnout. With the Central Election Committee claiming 75% turnout of eligible voters and a number of reports from on the ground and in the international wire services that put the figure much lower, there are apparent discrepancies that need to be investigated.
Expect EI photostories of election day, reports about what becomes of the legal challenges and allegations of election violations, analysis of challenges facing the winner, and stories of what transpired in the towns and cities on election day in our diaries section.
EI is free and 100% available to all visitors. Please make a point of forwarding articles from EI to contacts, and print out articles to distribute at home, to your colleagues, and friends.
Best wishes to you all in 2005. Hopefully this year will see more positive developments on the ground. Many in the Middle East and activist community are tired with the rapid pace of events of the last four years and are discouraged. We at EI remain optimistic. There is an Arabic proverb:
‘la buda lil laylee anjali walla buda lil qaidi anyankassar’ (’As the night will be eclipsed by the day, so the chain will be broken.’)
Nigel Parry for EI
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