ًWest Bank and Gaza
CSOs Call on the Prime Minister for Immediate Decision on Local Council Elections Date in Gaza
In a letter to the Prime Minister Dr. Mohammad Shtayyeh, a number of coalitions and human rights organizations urged him to make an immediate decision setting a date for local council elections in Gaza and to resume the elections for their counterparts in the West Bank where elections were not held. The letter was signed by the following coalitions and organizations: Palestinian NGOs Network (PNGO), Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR), AMAN - Coalition for Accountability and Integrity, Arab World Democracy and Electoral Monitor, Al-Haq Organization, Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), MUSAWA – The Palestinian Center for the Independence of the Judiciary and the Legal Profession, and Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights.
The organizations stressed in their letter that holding and participating in local elections in Gaza, as candidates and voters, is a natural right for citizens that should not be constrained by any party, emphasizing the urgent need to hold elections for local councils as they believe that local elections can alleviate citizens' suffering, while also respecting the inherent right guaranteed by the Basic Law for citizens to participate and choose their representatives in governance and administrations. They believe it could also represent a glimmer of hope for national unity, a path out of division, and a way to unite our national institutions in the West Bank and Gaza.
The signatory organizations referred to the developments of the social dialogue on local elections that took place in Gaza over the course of more than two years, during which CSOs made significant efforts to push for the holding of local elections with the participation of the National and Islamic factions, and they expressed their satisfaction with the dialogue's outcomes, which were revealed at the national meeting held in Gaza on August 14, 2023. As a result of the positive developments, especially since all parties' statements confirmed their willingness to participate in the elections, and the Central Elections Commission expressed its readiness while awaiting a decision from the Council of Ministers, the organizations called on the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers to issue an urgent decision setting the date for the third phase of the local elections, which will be overseen by the Central Elections Commission. These elections will include (27) Councils in the West Bank where elections did not take place in the first and second phases, as well as (35) Councils in the West Bank where elections were supposed to take place but failed to do so, in addition to (25) local councils in Gaza with an estimated voter turnout of over one million.
The organizations concluded their letter by praising the efforts made and reiterating that they will continue to work with the various parties in Gaza to maintain the prevailing positive spirit and create the appropriate and suitable environment for this process to proceed swiftly and transparently. This includes promoting public freedoms and respecting freedom of expression and opinion, as well as the right to peaceful assembly, in order to provide a suitable electoral environment for fair and free democratic elections. The signatory organizations ended their letter expressing their hope that the Central Elections Commission would soon conduct a visit to Gaza.