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Last Updated: Saturday, 4 June, 2005, 10:58 GMT 11:58 UK
Abbas postpones Palestinian vote
Voting in recent local elections
Hamas have made strong showings in recent local elections
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has announced that parliamentary elections set for 17 July will be postponed.

In a public decree, he said he wanted to allow more time to resolve a dispute over changes to the election law.

Mr Abbas said a new date would be set after talks with the Palestinian factions and law makers.

The move has been condemned by militant group Hamas, which correspondents say had been poised to do well in its first run at a legislative poll.

The group had made a strong showing in recent local elections, and some observers say it could challenge the ruling Fatah party's dominance of the parliament.

'Violated agreement'

Mr Abbas did not set a new date for the election, but Palestinian officials have talked about a delay of several months.

The dispute stalling the vote is over the method by which candidates would be selected.

The postponement will please many in Mr Abbas' Fatah party because they want more time to prepare for the poll, the BBC's Barbara Plett reports from Jerusalem.

The movement is in disarray and tarnished by a reputation for corruption and inefficiency, our correspondent says.

The election date was part of a broader agreement between Mr Abbas and the factions that included a ceasefire.

Hamas had earlier threatened to re-think the truce if the date was changed.

"We consider this decision as a violation for all the Palestinian understandings and national agreements," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said, according to the Associated Press news agency.

Watch Mahmoud Abbas explain the postponement

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