Palestinian frustration shows with low poll turnout

Palestinian frustration shows with low poll turnout
People register to vote in the Palestinian local elections in the occupied West Bank city of Al-Bireh city, on March 26, 2022. (AFP)
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Updated 28 March 2022

Palestinian frustration shows with low poll turnout

Palestinian frustration shows with low poll turnout

AMMAN: The second round of Palestinian local elections has brought little sign of a clear political direction, leading analysts told Arab News.

Palestinians went to the polls in major cities across the West Bank on Saturday after the first round of municipal voting was held in early December.

About 52 percent of those eligible voted, according to Hanna Nasser, head of the Palestinian Central Election Commission.

Rana Abu Farah, who anchored numerous election debates for the Ma’an TV network, said that Fatah is claiming to have won 60 percent of the seats in major cities.

“But the results should not be considered an indication of their success because of the low turnout, and the absence of any sign of when legislative and presidential elections will take place.”

BACKGROUND

Political factions, including Fatah, are now jumping on the tribal bandwagon and naming candidates with a tribal base.

At least one analyst blamed the low voter turnout on Palestinians’ frustration at the lack of political vision on offer.

Ali Jarbawi, a political science professor at Bir Zeit University, said: “People don’t see any positive value in participating and the political factions are experiencing weakness.”

Political factions, including Fatah, are now jumping on the tribal bandwagon and naming candidates with a tribal base, he added.

Palestinian general legislative and presidential elections were canceled in April 2021, and there is no sign when they will take place.

Leading Palestinian pollster Khalil Shikaki told Arab News that presidential elections will take place only when President Mahmoud Abbas decides to leave office. “There is no doubt that Abbas will lose if elections are held,” Shikaki, director of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, said.

Ghassan Andoni, an academic who ran on an independent list for the Beit Sahour council, said that the local elections highlighted the political diversity in Palestine.

“The elections reflect a wide political map, but in the absence of real competition, Fatah does better.” Andoni said he believes that parliamentary and presidential elections are still far away.

“The new councils will undoubtedly play an important role in the near future due to the political and financial weakness of the Palestinian Authority,” he said.

Former Palestinian Cabinet minister Ziad Abu Zayyad criticized the “tribal atmosphere” that predominated in the local elections.

“People young and old came out to support their relatives and tribes,” he said.

Abu Zayyad argues that Palestinians have failed to install a democratic culture “because democracy is not only about voting booths — democracy is a way of life.”

He added: “We have also failed to build political life and a political system that believes in pluralism, and is guaranteed by the constitution and the rule of law.”


Jordan govt blames lack of safety measures for deadly gas leak in Aqaba port

Jordan govt blames lack of safety measures for deadly gas leak in Aqaba port
Updated 8 min 17 sec ago

Jordan govt blames lack of safety measures for deadly gas leak in Aqaba port

Jordan govt blames lack of safety measures for deadly gas leak in Aqaba port
  • The accident happened when a tank filled with 25 tons of chlorine gas being exported to Djibouti fell while being transported

AMMAN: The Jordanian government on Sunday blamed a lack of safety measures for the deadly gas leak in Aqaba last week.


A total of 13 people were killed, and 250 others were hospitalized when a chlorine tank exploded after a crane dropped it at the Red Sea port of Aqaba, releasing a large plume of toxic yellow smoke.

The accident happened when a tank filled with 25 tons of chlorine gas being exported to Djibouti fell while being transported.

Announcing the results of the investigation into the gas leak tragedy, Jordanian Interior Minister Mazen Al-Faraya said that the reason behind the accident was the incompatibility of the metal wire that carried the gas tank with its weight.

During a press conference on Sunday, Al-Faraya said that the weight of the tank was “three times more than the cable load capacity.”

Al-Faraya also said that the required safety procedures in dealing with such hazardous material were not in place while loading the gas tank on the truck.

The minister said that the safety attendant was not present on the ship to check the loading and unloading protocols and procedures.

Al-Faraya said that the report into the Aqaba gas leak would be referred to the prosecutor-general for further investigation.

Faisal Shboul, minister of state for media affairs, said that the state institutions’ response to the incident was “professional and immediate,” which resulted in the gas leak being contained and the situation being brought under control.

He also commended the “high efficiency” of the health care system in Aqaba, saying that only eight injured in the accident were currently receiving treatment.

Prime Minister Bishr Al-Khasawneh said that, as per the recommendations of the investigation team, the Cabinet had approved the termination of the services of the directors of the Jordan Maritime Commission and the Aqaba Company for Port Operation and Management and other officials.

Chairing a Cabinet meeting on Sunday, Khasawneh also blamed the absence of the required safety measures for the gas leak.

In a statement to Arab News, the premier said that the “government’s professional and rapid response to the incident has greatly helped mitigate the disaster and its consequences on the port city and its residents.”

He said that the government had implemented the king’s directives to embark on a comprehensive investigation into the incident.

Jordan’s King Abdullah II has called for those responsible for the deadly gas leak to be held accountable.

Chairing a meeting last Tuesday at the National Center for Security and Crisis Management, the king “stressed the need to provide transparent explanations to the public after investigations conclude, as well as identifying shortcomings and holding those responsible to account by law.”

Following the gas leak tragedy, employees at the port of Aqaba have been staging a sit-in, demanding better safety measures at their work sites and better living conditions.


Minister stresses importance of continuing to develop Bahrain-UK partnership

Minister stresses importance of continuing to develop Bahrain-UK partnership
Updated 03 July 2022

Minister stresses importance of continuing to develop Bahrain-UK partnership

Minister stresses importance of continuing to develop Bahrain-UK partnership
  • British Minister of State for Asia and the Middle East Amanda Milling is on a visit to Manama
  • Bahrain’s minister of finance and national economy affirmed the depth of UK-Bahraini relations

RIYADH: Bahrain’s finance minister has stressed the importance of continuing to develop the partnership between his country and the UK in order to create more ambitious investment opportunities, Bahrain News Agency reported on Sunday.

Minister of Finance and National Economy, Sheikh Salman bin Khalifa Al-Khalifa, also affirmed the depth of UK-Bahraini relations which has strengthened economic cooperation and partnership between the two countries.

The minister also highlighted the importance of building on fruitful cooperation between the two countries and opening up new horizons so as to achieve common aspirations and goals.

The comments were made during the British Minister of State for Asia and the Middle East Amanda Milling’s visit to Manama.

Milling said she was delighted to visit Bahrain and pleased to meet with British embassy officials to learn more about the “on-going work with the Bahrain government.”


2 women killed in shark attacks off Egypt’s Red Sea coast

2 women killed in shark attacks off Egypt’s Red Sea coast
Updated 14 sec ago

2 women killed in shark attacks off Egypt’s Red Sea coast

2 women killed in shark attacks off Egypt’s Red Sea coast
  • The Environment Ministry said it has formed a committee to investigate the attacks

CAIRO: Two women were killed over the weekend in shark attacks off Egypt’s Red Sea coast, a tourist hotspot.

The first victim was a 68-year-old Austrian woman who lost an arm and a leg due to a shark attack yet managed to swim to shore to seek help.

She immediately received medical attention and was taken to an ambulance, where she died minutes later. She had been living in Egypt for the past few years with her Egyptian husband.

The second victim, a middle-aged Romanian tourist, was found dead hours after the first attack. Her identity is yet to be revealed. 

The two attacks occurred around 600 meters away from each other, and resulted in authorities suspending any activities in the area. The Environment Ministry said it has formed a committee to investigate the attacks.

The state has been trying to revive tourism since the industry was hit by the coronavirus pandemic. Tourism accounts for around 12 percent of Egypt’s gross domestic product.


Austrian, Egyptian FMs hold talks in Cairo

Austrian, Egyptian FMs hold talks in Cairo
Updated 03 July 2022

Austrian, Egyptian FMs hold talks in Cairo

Austrian, Egyptian FMs hold talks in Cairo
  • Topics discussed include terrorism, immigration, Russia-Ukraine war, global food crisis

CAIRO: Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg and his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry held talks in Cairo, discussing the fight against terrorism, illegal immigration, the Russia-Ukraine war and the resulting global food crisis.

At a joint press conference, Schallenberg stressed the importance of resolving the global food crisis resulting from the conflict.

Shoukry said the war has impacted all the world’s countries, adding: “Egypt is the largest importer of wheat in the world, but we have enough reserves for our people and we are working to provide other quantities.”

He said Egypt is in contact with all parties, and its goal is to restore stability and end the conflict.

Shoukry received Schallenberg at the Egyptian Foreign Ministry headquarters. They discussed ways to enhance cooperation between Egypt and Austria, especially in the political, economic and investment fields.


Egypt’s House of Representatives approves Saudi PIF deal

Egypt’s House of Representatives approves Saudi PIF deal
Updated 03 July 2022

Egypt’s House of Representatives approves Saudi PIF deal

Egypt’s House of Representatives approves Saudi PIF deal
  • The agreement aims to encourage, support and protect PIF investments in Egypt

CAIRO: Egypt’s House of Representatives, the lower house of Parliament, has approved an agreement signed in March between Cairo and Riyadh regarding Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.

The agreement aims to encourage, support and protect PIF investments in Egypt, enhance bilateral trade, and expand both countries’ investments in other countries regionally and internationally.

The PIF, established in 1971, is one of the largest sovereign wealth funds in the world, with assets estimated at $620 billion.