In a press conference held at the presidential office in Gaza, President Mahmoud Abbas discussed the latest developments in the electoral process and the steps that were being taken to ensure that the legislative elections scheduled for January 25, 2006 will be free and fair.
On the issue of election arrangements in Jerusalem, President Abbas stated that the exclusion of Jerusalemites from participating in the upcoming elections would be unacceptable. Abbas stated that the polling day is sacred to Palestinians and voting is a right that should be protected. He added that any procedure that is undertaken by the CEC in preparation for the legislative elections in East Jerusalem is undertaken in accordance with the law.
Abbas also discussed the early voting for the security forces and reiterated that early voting is conducted in many countries having national elections. Although the Ministry of Interior stated that voting for the security forces should take place in the barracks, Abbas clarified his position by stating that he was in agreement with the CEC, a technical, politically-neutral institution, which maintains that early voting for the security forces must take place in polling centres designated by the CEC.