Tomo 6
Numero 5
December 2004


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Islamic Jihad to boycott election for Arafat successor

GAZA CITY (AFP) - The radical Palestinian faction Islamic Jihad announced it would boycott Januaryís election to appoint a successor to Yasser Arafat as head of the Palestinian Authority.

"We in Islamic Jihad we have our own priority to restore our land, which means a policy of resistance is fundamental to us," Jihad leader Nafez Azzem told reporters in Gaza City.

"The elected president will have certain restrictions imposed on him. He will have relations with Israel and the United States, and consequently we are not going to participate in the election," Azzem added.

The Palestinians plan to hold an election on January 9 to choose a new president of the Palestinian Authority after the death of their veteran leader in France last Thursday.

Long-awaited presidential, legislative and municipal polls in the occupied territories had been due to take place in early 2005, but with Arafatís death the date for the presidential vote was brought forward.

The last ó and only ó Palestinian elections were held in January 1996 after the 1993 Oslo accords that led to the launch of limited autonomy and creation of the Palestinian Authority the following year.

Jihad had not been expected to contest the election as it has consistently rejected the Oslo accords, which have effectively been nullified by four years of deadly Israeli-Palestinian violence.

Its larger Islamist rival Hamas, which likewise rejects the Oslo accords, on Monday called for local and parliamentary elections to be held in tandem with the presidential vote.

"We are insisting on the need for legislative and municipal elections in addition to the presidential poll," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zukhri told journalists.

"We are opposed to any monopoly on power," Abu Zukhri said, adding that Hamas would announce later whether it would actually take part in the vote.

Both groups were among the main Palestinian factions to held talks on security in the occupied territories with Mahmud Abbas, who replaced Arafat as head of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO).

Arafat was head of the Palestinian Authority, the PLO and its main Fatah faction, but on his death three top Palestinians were named to fill the posts.

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