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Last Updated: Tuesday, 31 May, 2005, 19:14 GMT 20:14 UK
Hamas boycott halts Gaza re-vote
Hamas supporters protest outside the Palestinian parliament in Gaza
Hamas supporters have called for the re-vote to be cancelled
Palestinian officials have agreed to delay indefinitely re-runs of elections they had ordered in three Gaza towns.

The move came after militant group Hamas said it would boycott the partial re-runs, ordered after its rival Fatah contested the results.

The ruling Fatah party emerged as the overall victor in the 5 May elections.

But Hamas did better in the more populous towns of Rafah, Beit Lahia and al-Bureij. Egyptian mediators have been trying to heal the rift.

Correspondents say the dispute could threaten a fragile truce with Israel that has kept violence to a minimum since February.

International observers say they found no evidence of election fraud in the three areas where Hamas came out on top.

Announcing its boycott, Hamas angrily accused Fatah of breaking promises made during negotiations.

"Hamas has decided not to take part in what is another vote in Rafah, Beit Lahia and al-Bureij," said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri.

"Fatah will shoulder direct responsibility for ignoring the agreement reached," he said.

There has been no immediate comment from Fatah.




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