Palestinian voters cast their ballots in the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) elections today, Wednesday (25 January 2006) throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). This was the second parliamentary election in the OPT, the first one being in 1996.
In its capacity as an election monitor, PCHR and 34 other civil society organizations continued their monitoring campaign of all stages of the elections, including today’s voting. Six hundred monitors, half of them females, monitored 988 polling stations in 254 polling centers throughout the Gaza Strip.
Preliminary results of the monitoring process indicate that the elections were held in an organized and quiet manner throughout the Gaza Strip, reflecting high levels of organization and professionalism by the Central Elections Committee (CEC). Voting was transparent, as it was conducted in the presence of candidate and party representatives, local and international monitors, and local and international media. Throughout the day, the CEC cooperated completely with monitoring bodies, and dealt seriously with all comments presented by monitors. Polling centers opened at 7:00 in the morning and closed without extending voting time at 7:00 in the evening, in accordance with the Elections Law. Closure minutes were prepared in the presence of candidate and party representatives and monitors. Then, the vote count started.
PCHR’s monitors registered a few minor violations, the most notable of which was the continuation of campaigning activities outside and inside polling centers. In addition, private media outlets continued to broadcast campaign messages, especially those outlets affiliated with the two largest contesting parties. Overcrowding and gatherings at the entrances of polling centers led to a few confrontations. However, the extent of the violations does not undermine the overall integrity of the elections.
PCHR expresses relief over the generally orderly procession of voting at all centers. And in this regard, the Centre commends all parties, including the representatives of candidates and parties and the Palestinian police, for preserving order during the day.
PCHR continues its monitoring role in the vote count through monitors distributed in all polling stations. The Centre looks forward to counting the votes in a calm atmosphere of transparency and impartiality.