Hamas protests the municipal vote being held separately from presidential and parliamentary elections
Hamas — the de facto governing authority of the Gaza Strip — refused to allow the second phase of Palestinian municipal elections to be held.
The Palestinian faction also barred the first phase of the elections earlier this month, while people took to the polls in the West Bank.
Hamas and other Palestinian groups criticize the Palestinian Authority (PA) for splitting the municipal elections into two phases, The Jerusalem Post (The Post) reported.
They protest the municipal vote being held separately from presidential and parliamentary polls, which were postponed indefinitely by PA President Mahmoud Abbas.
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The first phase of the municipal elections took place in 154 localities in the West Bank on December 11.
According to the Palestinian Central Elections Commission (CEC), voter turnout reached 66 percent out of over 400,000 eligible voters.
Scheduled for March 26, the second phase of the elections will include 127 localities in big cities of the West Bank and Gaza.
However, in a letter sent to the CEC last week, Hamas reiterated its position of boycotting the elections, The Post reported.
"Comprehensive elections must be held simultaneously or consecutively, in which local elections are a part and not an alternative," Hamas insisted in the letter.
In response, CREC chairman Hanna Nasser noted that his commission does not have the authority to decide on such matters.
A PA official in the West Bank city Ramallah accused Hamas of “obstructing” the elections and warned the boycott would deepen divisions among Palestinians and solidify the split between the West Bank and Gaza Strip.