The Palestinian Interior Ministry announced a state of emergency on Tuesday in a bid to ensure a secure and smooth legislative election due on Wednesday, Palestinian sources reported.
Tawfik Abu Khousa, spokesman of the interior ministry, said in a press statement that as of Tuesday, 13,000 Palestinian security apparatuses and police will be deployed inside and around voting stations to protect the polls, which will be held in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.
The state of emergency will last till results of the elections are announced, he said, adding that "Instructions have been made to security members to provide security to all voting stations."
Security forces will prevent any attempts to obstruct the elections and bar armed men from entering the voting stations regardless of their positions, Abu Khousa added.
Palestinian voters will elect an expanded parliament of 132 seats, in the second parliamentary elections ever with the widest participation among the Palestinian factions.
The first elections took place in 1996 and were boycotted by most of the Palestinian factions except for Fatah and the Palestinian People’s Party (PPP), the former communist party, which is running for these elections in a coalition with the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) and the Democratic Palestinian Union, and some independent candidates.
Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, who was candidate of the PPP in the 1996 vote, is leading a list of 49 candidates called, the Independent Palestine List. Barghouthi competed for the Presidency elections held in January of 2005 and won some 19 percent of the votes, marking the second place after the current president Mahmoud Abbas who won 62 percent of the votes.
Major groups, including the ruling Fatah movement and the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), the two front-runners, pledged to maintain calm on the Election Day in a joint statement announced earlier in the day.