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Indian observer team for Palestinian elections

January 18, 2006 13:24 IST
India is sending a high-level election observers team for the Palestinian Legislative Council elections, which are being held after a gap of nine years, Palestinian election commission sources said in Ramallah on Wednesday.

The six-member team led by Deputy Election Commissioner of India, Anand Kumar, includes K R Prasad, senior official, Deepak Prasad and K V Kurundkar, Additional electoral officers from Bihar and Maharashtra respectively, senior civil servant, Hoshiar Singh from Madhya Pradesh, and D Satya Murty from Karnataka, they said. "We welcome the involvement of the world's largest democracy in pushing forward our own efforts in this direction", a spokesperson of the Palestinian Election Commission told PTI.

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The elections have generated immense interest around the world with more than 500 international observers expected in the region. Election commission sources expressed hopes of a large turnout like in the recently concluded local council elections with almost all the major Palestinian factions participating in the much awaited polls.

Islamic militant faction Hamas is said to be running neck-to-neck with the ruling Fatah party in the opinion polls and is said to be heading towards achieving major political gains.

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Israel last week allowed Palestinians in East Jerusalem to participate in the elections but barred militant factions from campaigning or participating in the polls in the area under its control since 1967. Some senior Hamas leaders in East Jerusalem were arrested by the Israeli police when they tried to arrange a rally and alleged offices of the militant faction closed down after an Israeli cabinet decision. Hamas detractors have dubbed its decision to participate in the process a "betrayal" which gives legitimacy to Israel.

Some senior leaders from the faction have hinted towards modifying its charter in the recent past that calls for the complete destruction of the Jewish state. The international community is pinning hopes that the elections will lead to necessary reforms in the Palestinian Authority and push forward the internationally brokered "road map" plan for peace.
Harinder Mishra in Ramallah
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