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Palestinian people must not be restricted or hindered in today's elections - Bairbre de Brún

25 January, 2006

Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has today called for today's elections to be 'held in an environment free from harassment and restrictions upon voters.'

Ms de Brún made her calls as the Palestinian electorate go to the polls in the first national elections in a decade today. Ms de Brún travelled to the region as part of a delegation from the European United Left/Nordic Green Left group in the European Parliament to observe the legislative elections.

Speaking from Hebron Ms de Brún:

"Voting is underway in today's national elections and approximately 1,000 international observers have arrived in Palestine to observe the electoral process from beginning to end.

"In the course of my visit to Palestine I have held meetings with a variety of groups and individuals including the Mayor of Ramallah. A recurring theme in many of the meetings was of restrictions placed upon those involved in the organisation of today's election, including people being held at checkpoints for several hours, arrests of candidates and election offices raided, and candidates being told that they cannot campaign in East Jerusalem, even indoors, and voter registration being prevented in East Jerusalem until one week ago.

"This election is of enormous significance for Palestinians who regard today's election as a crucial opportunity to have a say in running Palestine in spite of all the hardships they have endured in recent years and in spite of the restrictions they still face under continued Israeli rule. It is in this climate that the international observers will watch the events of today closely to ensure that the elections are conducted in an environment free from harassment and restrictions upon the electorate." ENDS

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