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High turnout at Palestinian polls

High turnout at Palestinian polls

By Laila El-Haddad and Khalid Amayreh - Al Jazeera

High voter turnout has been reported in the first Palestinian legislative elections in a decade.

Hazim Ba'loosha of the Central Elections Committee said on Wednesday that things appeared to be running smoothly, with no serious violations to report, adding that there was a good voter turnout of 40.6% by 1pm (1100 GMT).

"Until now things are proceeding very well, with only a few minor incidents concerning campaigning in front of the polling centres. But inside voting is occurring in a very peaceful manner," Ba'loosha told

Mathias Eick, the EU Observer Mission press officer, said:"We're still getting reports in from all the observers, but the initial impression is that most polling stations have observed that people are coming to polls and there seems to be quite a festive atmosphere ... we'll see as the day progresses."

However, Israeli occupation forces obstructed polling centres in the Old City in East Jerusalem, so people had to cast their votes in centres elsewhere, election officials said.

More than a thousand polling stations opened throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip at 7am on Wednesday as 1.3 million eligible voters began casting their ballots.

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