Election Irregularities: Mustafa Barghouthi campaign alleges “serious” election violations


Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi

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:

  • The Israeli government’s blockade and disenfranchisement of the elections process, particularly the suppression of the internationally recognized rights of East Jerusalem residents to vote. In Jerusalem a large contingent of Israeli security forces engaged in arbitrary harassment, obstruction, and intimidation, which prevented significant numbers of Palestinians from voting. Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter declared his concern over the severe impediments faced by Jerusalem voters due to undemocratic activities by the Israeli government.
  • Contrary to what is being advertised, the Israeli government did not remove the checkpoints to facilitate the free movement of voters to their elections centers.
  • Around 25,000 people have been held at the Rafah crossing checkpoint for nearly a month by Israeli forces, and they have been unable to reach their home cities and exercise their right to vote.

    Other problematic developments on voting day included:

  • The Central Elections Committee was pressured all day to change the rules and procedures of voting, changes which could seriously affect the accountability and transparency of the elections process.
  • At around 5:00 pm, Dr. Barghouthi and his campaigners found out via the media and word of mouth that the election rules and procedures had been changed. Neither he nor his campaign were officially informed. The changes were:

    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.

    Related Links

  • BY TOPIC: Palestinian Elections
  • Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi campaign website - English & Arabic
  • Central Election Commission