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Mission Finds Consensus and Optimisim Surrounding Palestinian Presidential Election, Recommends Immediate Action on Several Key Issues

A pre-election assessment team organized by the National Democratic Institute, in partnership with The Carter Center, has found a remarkable degree of consensus among Palestinian political leaders, civil society activists and political observers surrounding the 9 January 2005 election to choose the next president of the Palestinian Authority, succeeding President Yasser Arafat.

Access the full text of the delegation's statement here.

"This election is almost universally regarded as a key opportunity to start a new era in Palestinian politics and to initiate needed reforms in Palestinian governance," wrote the delegation in its statement.

Although the presidential election is an opportunity welcomed by most Palestinians, there is also recognition that this is a limited exercise with respect to ongoing democratic institutional development in the Palestinian territories. There are a number of challenges-both technical and political still surrounding these elections.

The delegation issued a series of recommendations to address these challenges, specifically concerning freedom of movement, voting in Jerusalem, and voter education.

NDI recommends that Palestinian election officials and workers receive full freedom of movement and access to all necessary areas immediately. Candidates for the presidency, their campaign staff, and political party officials should receive the same facilitation of movement as soon as possible, and certainly no later than the start of the official campaign period. All voters must have full freedom of movement from at least 8 - 10 January for the purposes of reaching voting centers.

The delegation expressed concern that time is running out to reach an agreement on voting in Jerusalem that could be implemented in time for election day. NDI recommends that any agreement reached expand the number of locations used for purposes of voting, beyond those employed in 1996. The Institute also recommends that special consideration be given to the transportation of ballots, if they are not to be counted at the place of voting in Jerusalem.

Additionally, Jerusalemites should receive explicit reassurances from Israeli and Palestinian officials that exercising their voting rights in the January elections will not lead to sanctions in any form, a concern which inhibited voting in 1996 and interrupted the recent voter registration process.

Finally, the Institute encourages Palestinian civil society organizations, the Central Election Commission and all relevant Palestinian authorities to work together to organize a comprehensive and appropriate voter education effort to insure that all voters are fully informed of the processes in place for these elections. The inclusion of the civil registry as a voter list has led to a system that is potentially confusing to voters.

From 13 - 20 December 2004, NDI and the Center organized a pre-election assessment mission to examine the technical preparations and political dynamics surrounding the upcoming presidential elections. The delegation was composed of experts in political development, election administration and voter education, with collective experience in more than 40 electoral and political assessments around the world, including several in the Middle East and North Africa. The team conducted a series of meetings with electoral authorities, campaign representatives, Palestinian and Israeli governmental officials, representatives of domestic and international monitoring organizations, political party and civic leaders, and representatives of the international community.

NDI will continue to monitor preparations for the presidential election and will organize an international observer delegation to monitor the process on election day.


NDI is a nonprofit organization working to strengthen and expand democracy worldwide. Calling on a global network of volunteer experts, NDI provides practical assistance to civic and political leaders advancing democratic values, practices and institutions. NDI works with democrats in every region of the world to build political and civic organizations, safeguard elections, and to promote citizen participation, openness and accountability in government.

For more information, please contact:

In Jerusalem: National Democratic Institute /West Bank and Gaza
Phone: +972 (0)2 583 7447 or + 972 (0)54 764 0024
Fax: +972 (0)2 583 7449 Email:

In Washington DC: National Democratic Institute /Public Affairs
Phone: 1 202 728-6335 Email:

Please visit for information about NDI and its programs.

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