Abbas changes election law in challenge to Hamas
In a move seen as a direct challenge to the Islamic Hamas movement, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas decreed Sunday that any candidate who competes in upcoming Palestinian elections has to be committed to the principles of the Palestine Liberation Orga
Hamas is not a member of the PLO, which is dominated by Abbas' Fatah party and whose charter, unlike that of Hamas, recognizes Israel.
Hamas immediately rejected the decree, which its Gaza spokesman, Fawzi Barhoum, said was aimed at preventing Hamas "from participating in any future legislative elections."
Abbas also announced that he has ratified changes to the Palestinian elections law, doing away with the system whereby half the seats in parliament were allocated according to constituencies, and half according to proportional representation.
Under the new system, all the parliamentary seats will be based on the proportional system..
Observers note that Fatah scored well in the proportional voting in the last election, but suffered stinging defeats in the constituencies.
"It is my right as a president to legislate laws and decisions that are called decrees. These decrees are legal, as long as the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) is not able to convene," Abbas told reporters in a news conference Sunday.
The PLC has been unable to hold a full session since the Gaza takeover, in part because some 40 of the 132 legislators have been detained by Israel, and in part because Hamas legislators refuse to attend any session which could ratify the administration Abbas appointed to replace the Hamas-led government.
The absence of the legislators prevents the chamber of attaining the quorum necessary for sessions to take place.
"If the PLC is able to convene, then it would be its right to pass my decree or reject it," said Abbas.
Last Mod: 03 Eylül 2007, 10:51