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Election officials extend Palestinian voter registration

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Palestinian election officials on Monday extended by two days the process of updating the electoral rolls in Gaza and the West Bank to allow more people to register.

The long-overdue process of updating the records, which began on February 11 and was expected to last a week, is a vital step towards holding new elections.

"Voter registration will be extended until Wednesday, February 20th in the West Bank and Gaza Strip based on recommendations of various political parties to enable more citizens to register," Central Elections Commission chief Hanna Nasser said in a statement.

Voter registration has been delayed for years due to a long-running dispute between the Hamas rulers of Gaza and its Fatah rival which dominates the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority.

It is a key part of preparations for legislative and presidential elections called for under the terms of a reconciliation deal signed in 2011 but which has never been implemented.

The electoral register has not been updated since the 2006 legislative elections, with the registration drive expected to include another 720,000 new names -- 388,000 in the West Bank and 332,000 in Gaza, the CEC said.

By Monday, the number of people who had registered stood at 350,784, of which 275,501 were resident in Gaza, officials said.

"The CEC calls on all Palestinians to practice their right in registration before the end of the legal period," the statement said.

Officials say it will take four to six weeks to enter the newly-obtained data into the database after which the electoral rolls will be ready for use.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130218/election-officials-extend-palestinian-voter-registration