Fatah and Hamas agree to election timetable
Published Monday, May 21, 2012
Palestinian rivals Hamas and Fatah agreed on Sunday on a new timetable for a power-sharing deal that envisions elections in about six months, officials from both sides said.
Reconciliation efforts have stalled repeatedly, and it is unclear if the latest agreement, brokered by Egypt and signed in Cairo, would end the impasse.
Hamas seized Gaza from Fatah's leader, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, in 2007, after they had refused to give up power after losing the 2006 election in the area.
Earlier this year, Abbas and Hamas' supreme leader, Khaled Meshal, agreed that the Palestinian president should head an interim government that prepares for elections.
However, the agreement never got off the ground because of disagreements over implementation, as well as opposition from Hamas leaders in Gaza who balked at giving up some of their powers to Abbas.
Under the timetable agreed on Sunday, the Palestinian election commission would begin updating voter records in Gaza on May 27.
Within 10 days, Abbas and Meshal would form the interim government, which would be in office for no more than six months, Azzam al-Ahmed of Fatah and Fawzi Barhoum of Hamas said.
The interim government would prepare for presidential and parliamentary elections, the officials said.
It was not immediately clear what led to Sunday's somewhat unexpected agreement.
Hamas is in the midst of secret leadership elections, and no progress on reconciliation was expected until the vote, already under way for several weeks, is completed.