“CHANGES IN THE ELECTIONS RULES AND REGULATIONS ARE SERIOUS VIOLATIONS OF THE PALESTINIAN ELECTIONS LAW”Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, Palestinian presidential candidate, held a press conference at 7:30 pm on the evening of January 9, 2005, the day of the Palestinian presidential elections.
He began by thanking all those who assisted in his campaign, which is a historic democratic movement not only for Palestinians but for the entire Arab region as well. He stated that his was a courageous, powerful, and confident campaign in which a grassroots democratic opposition movement ran against the existing authority without fear, and his message has reached tens of thousands of people, from Rafah to Jenin.
Unfortunately, several types of violations were evident on voting day, including:
Other problematic developments on voting day included:
1. The voting process was prolonged for two additional hours.
2. The rules and procedures were changed such that people who were not registered in the elections registry were suddenly allowed to vote, which opened up the possibility of double or multiple voting.
When the Central Elections Committee was asked about safeguards against double voting, they cited the use of indelible ink and the voter registry. By 5:30 pm, the registry was removed as a safeguard, and the indelible ink was also known to be removable since early morning. Dr. Barghouthi himself, like many others, managed to remove the ink from his thumb with acetone.
These extremely serious developments were accompanied by the transport of hundreds if not thousands of Palestinian security servicemen to polling stations to vote after the election rules and regulations had changed.
Dr. Barghouthi asked the Central Elections Committee to send him the changes in voting procedures in writing, but he was told that this was impossible.
The matter is currently being followed up by Dr. Barghouthi’s campaign lawyers, who are examining the consequences of such violations and considering the necessary actions.
It is unfortunate that the violations mentioned above have adversely reflected on the accountability, transparency, and seriousness of an otherwise smooth, civilized, and enthusiastic elections process.
Finally, Dr. Barghouthi reiterated that he and his supporters ran and continue to run a powerful campaign and will continue to demonstrate and represent the powerful democratic forces on the ground and in the streets in Palestine. All initial polls show that the “third democratic trend” led by Dr. Barghouthi is now the second most important political force in Palestine.
Dr. Barghouthi and his supporters are determined to continue to demonstrate to the world that Palestinians form a progressive and democratic society capable of holding elections, upholding the rule of law, building a democratic civil society, and being accountable to all citizens without discrimination or favoritism.