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VOICE OF AMERICA
SLUG: 2-321634 Palestinian Elections
DATE:
NOTE NUMBER:

DATE=1/9/2005

TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT

TITLE= PALESTINIAN ELECTIONS (L-UP)

NUMBER=2-

BYLINE= SONJA PACE

DATELINE= JERUSALEM

CONTENT=

VOICED AT:

// UPDATES CR 2-321626 FROM LARRY JAMES WITH INITIAL VOTE RESULTS; REWRITE THRUOUT //

HEADLINE: Exit Polls Show Mahmoud Abbas Decisive Winner in Palestinian Presidential Elections

INTRO: Exit polls show Mahmoud Abbas the clear winner in the race for Palestinian president. VOA's Sonja Pace reports from Jerusalem the polls were kept open an additional two hours in order to give some voters a chance to cast their ballots.

TEXT: Exit polls show Fatah candidate Mahmoud Abbas winning between 66 and 70 percent of the vote. His nearest rival Mustafa Barghouti managed to garner some 20 percent.

Opinion surveys had consistently shown Mr. Abbas with a commanding lead. If these initial results are confirmed in the official tally expected Monday, they would give the former prime minister a solid mandate to move ahead with political reforms and diplomatic efforts to renew peace talks with Israel.

However, Palestinian Cabinet Minister Nabil Shaath cautioned not to expect too much too soon.

/// SHAATH ACT ///

"I don't want people to feel too optimistic. I don't think tomorrow we are going to have an independent state. It's going to take time and effort, both on our side and certainly on the international community side to get Israel to commit itself to the road map and to withdraw its forces from our country."

/// END ACT ///

Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom says Israel expects the new Palestinian president to accept full responsibility for ensuring that Palestinians live up to their commitments for returning to the peace process.

/// SHALOM ACT ///

"And from tomorrow, we would like to see them implementing their commitments in the road map, in phase one. There are not going to be any shortcuts in the road map, no compromises or discounts."

/// END ACT ///

Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia, who is expected to keep his post in the new administration, said the election demonstrated the Palestinian commitment to democracy.

/// QUREIA ACT ///

"Our people want to show the world- want to show all the world - who are saying that there is in the region one democracy, which is Israel. Our message: NO! We are also democratic people and we want democracy! "

/// END ACT ///

Polls had been scheduled to close at 7 p.m. local time but were kept open longer to allow more people to cast their ballot.

Overall, Sunday's election went smoothly and voter turnout is estimated at around 65 percent. Some problems were reported in East Jerusalem, with confusion and delays at polling sites. (SIGNED)

NEB/SP/MAR



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