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Carter Center to Observe the 2005 Palestinian Presidential Election

On Jan. 9 Palestinians will go to the polls to elect a new leader in an election that many in the international community hope will create new opportunities for peace in the Middle East. The election will designate the president of the Palestine Authority, which governs the bulk of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, after longtime leader Yasir Arafat's death in November.

The Carter Center is partnering with the National Democratic Institute on a delegation to observe the election; both organizations observed the 1996 election of Arafat. Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter will co-lead the delegation.

"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 groups in a pre-election statement issued Dec. 22.

The pre-election delegation issued a series of recommendations to address technical and political challenges still surrounding the elections, specifically concerning freedom of movement, voting in Jerusalem, and voter education.

The PLO was created in 1964, and all Arab states recognized it at a 1974 Arab Summit as the representative of the Palestinian people. The chairman's seat was vacated by Yasir Arafat's death on Nov. 11, and Palestinian law calls for elections to be held within 60 days. Elections are scheduled Jan. 9, 59 days after his death. The election will be only the second by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and West Bank.

The 1993 Oslo Accords granted the Palestinian people the right to self-government in the West Bank and Gaza through the creation of the Palestine Authority. Arafat, already the head of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, which was formed to seek the creation of a Palestine state, was appointed president of the Palestinian Authority and officially confirmed through the nation's first elections in 1996.

"Due to the compressed timetable, the Palestinian leadership faces considerable technical challenges in holding elections on Jan. 9," said Dr. David Carroll, interim director of the Center's Democracy Program. "The goal for our observation is to identify any real or potential problems in administration and implementation, to recommend ways these can be solved, and to demonstrate the international community's support for open and transparent elections in the West Bank and Gaza."

As in 1996, NDI and the Center are observing the pre-election period, balloting and counting on election day, tabulation and announcement of results, and the resolution of electoral disputes, as well as other issues as they arise. The team will announce its preliminary findings soon after the election and publish a comprehensive report on the process in succeeding months.

Read more on the Center's observation of the 1996 Palestinian election

Read the final report on the Palestinian presidential election from the National Democratic Institute

Read President Carter's trip report

Read the preliminary statement of the NDI and Carter Center International Election Observer Delegation

Read the arrival statement

Read the announcement of the observer delegation

Read the announcement of the assessment statement

Read the full text of the pre-election assessment

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