World Bulletin / News Desk
Hamas suspended voter registration in the Gaza Strip on Monday in a setback to Palestinian plans for parliamentary and presidential elections and to forging unity with President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement.
Hamas cited the continued arrest of its members in the West Bank by security forces of the Palestinian Authority, which is led by West-backed Abbas.
"Hamas decided to temporarily suspend the work of the commission until the obstacles are removed," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said.
"We are still committed to reconciliation and to holding elections but aggressive security measures in the West Bank would lead to an election outcome favouring (Fatah)," he said.
Hamas members in the West Bank, Abu Zuhri said, could not register to vote or monitor the election committee's activities because of the security crackdown.
The Central Election Committee had urged Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to take part in voter registration, due to begin on Tuesday. Abbas was then expected to issue a decree setting a date for the long-delayed elections.
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A Belgian diplomat pulled off the face veil of a Qatari princess in Brussels.
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