Palestinian divisions persist as Cairo talks end

Updated 10 February 2013
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Palestinian divisions persist as Cairo talks end

CAIRO: Palestinian factions meeting in Cairo wrapped up two days of talks aimed at reconciling the rival Hamas and Fatah late on Saturday although divisions remained over how exactly to apply the deal, an official said.
The talks, which began on Friday, were held under the umbrella of the provisional governing body of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).
“We agreed with Hamas to start consultations with the Palestinian factions about the formation of a government of technocrats led by President (Mahmud) Abbas under terms of the Doha Agreement,” Fatah delegation chief Azzam Al-Ahmad told reporters, referring to a deal between Hamas and Fatah nearly a year ago.
“There was agreement over most of the questions, except several points concerning the election law for the (Palestinian) National Council,” he said of the PLO’s sprawling legislature.
PLO Executive Committee member Wassel Abu Yussef had earlier on Saturday said that the main points of dispute were over the way elections were held for the PNC, as well as other issues relating to legislative and presidential elections in the Palestinian territories.
He also said there was disagreement over the timing of the establishment of a caretaker cabinet, which is supposed to prepare for new elections, and the announcement of a date for such a poll.
“Fatah wants the government formed at the same time as a decree setting the date for elections,” Abu Yussef said.
“Hamas wants the government to be formed first to end the division before the date of elections is decided.”
Maher Al-Taher, head of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine delegation, agreed there would need to be more talks to iron out differences of opinion.
“The atmosphere was positive but we need another meeting to sort out some interpretations and differences in point of view,” he told reporters.
Another point of dispute is the type of voting system to be used, officials said.
Fatah and independent figures in the PLO provisional governing body want the same system to apply for the PNC and parliament, whereas Hamas wants proportional representation within the Palestinian National Council.
The Islamist movement which rules Gaza wants a breakdown of 75 percent proportional representation for polling in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and the rest under a one-person, one-vote system.
The Cairo talks were convened by Abbas, whose Fatah faction signed a reconciliation deal with Hamas in April 2011 aimed at ending years of rivalry, but which has never been properly implemented.
The PLO provisional governing council met in Cairo for the first time in December 2011. It groups PLO leaders and the heads of groups currently under its umbrella, as well as Hamas, Islamic Jihad and independent personalities.
Last week, Hamas authorized the Central Elections Commission to start registering voters in the Gaza Strip, removing a major obstacle to reconciliation with Fatah.
The CEC said voter registration will be carried out from February 11 to 18.


Lebanese election campaign fever turns into clash between Druze parties

Updated 25 April 2018
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Lebanese election campaign fever turns into clash between Druze parties

  • Lebanon's independent Sabaa party talks about exploitation of positions and money.
  • Several young men from the Sabaa party demonstrated on Tuesday outside the Ministry of Interior.

BEIRUT: Sectarian and partisan polarization resulting from fierce competition for parliamentary seats in Lebanon has led to the first armed clash between two rival Druze parties.
Machine guns were used in the clash between the Progressive Socialist Party, led by MP Walid Jumblatt, and the Lebanese Democratic Party, led by Talal Arslan, which took place on Sunday evening in the city of Choueifat, about 5 km south of Beirut.
The two parties’ leaders acted quickly to calm their supporters.
“When politicians plant seeds of hatred and grudges among people, they commit a crime against citizens who have been breaking bread together for centuries,” Jumblatt said in a tweet.
In a joint statement, the two parties stressed “the need to avoid any steps that could provoke anger among supporters or disturb citizens who look forward to freely exercising their right to vote in an atmosphere of democratic competition.”
The two parties, alongside other parties with supporters in Choueifat, such as Hezbollah, the Lebanese Forces, the Syrian Social Nationalist Party and the Amal Movement, have agreed on “disowning anyone who breaches security, requesting that the security forces intensify their presence in Choueifat, identifying fixed locations until the elections are over, and restraining from carrying out provocative processions.”
Campaigning lasts 24 hours before polling and has seen various kinds of violations of the electoral law.
Several young men from the Sabaa party — a group of independent activists — demonstrated on Tuesday outside the Ministry of Interior, carrying banners questioning the ministry’s role in election-related issues.
“Serious violations are taking place because the country is out of control; many are exploiting their positions and pouring (in) their money, and conflicts are happening at grassroots level — people are tearing down photos of candidates and individuals are fighting with one another,” said Gilbert Hobeish on behalf of the demonstrators.
He added: “This is unacceptable, and the minister of interior must take responsibility.”
Hobeish criticized the Electoral Supervisory Commission, saying “it only oversees the civil society or change candidates.”
“We reject this in toto,” he said.
Ali Al-Amin, a candidate on the Shbaana Haki electoral list (who was assaulted last Sunday by Hezbollah supporters in the town of Shaqra because he hung his photo outside his house), held a press conference in the town of Nabatiyah Al-Fawqa and renewed his protest against “the tyranny that silences voices, oppresses liberties and acts on its own will and temperaments, making us feel as if we were in the law of the jungle era.”
He said that “resistance isn’t anyone’s property nor is it one party’s ownership.”
He also called on “the free people of the south to decide which life they wanted and to which homeland and identity they belonged.”
Campaign fever is rising in Lebanon 48 hours before the elections are held for the first time for Lebanese communities in several Arab countries. These elections are to be held 11 days before parliamentary elections take place inside Lebanon.