24 Oct 2009

Palestinian president announces elections

3:03 pm on 24 October 2009

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has announced that elections will be held in January.

The Palestinian leader's presidential term expired earlier this year, the BBC reports.

Mr Abbas's office said in a statement that presidential and parliamentary elections would take place across the Palestinian territories, including the rival Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, on 24 January.

Hamas won a landslide victory in the last parliamentary elections in 2006.

A bitter power struggle between Fatah and Hamas followed, and in 2007 Hamas staged a violent takeover of Gaza.

In recent months Egypt has tried to broker a unity deal between Mr Abbas's Fatah faction, which runs the West Bank and Hamas.

Hamas has so far refused to sign up to Egyptian proposals accepted by Fatah, though Hamas officials have denied stalling on an agreement.

Hamas officials said Mr Abbas's election call would deepen divisions between their faction and Fatah.

Mr Abbas had said he would call elections even if no unity deal was reached.