Saturday, January 21, 2006

Countdown to crunch time

It's crunch time. With four days left until the big day, post-prayer in Gaza Friday afternoon saw dozens of election rallies and “festivals” complete with colourful (if tacky) banners, fervent partisan politicking, folk music, revolutionary songs and dabke dances.

Things are getting heated between the frontrunners, Hamas and Fateh, who have been exchanging blows over credibility over the past few days. Polls show a dead heat between the two.

In the northern part of the Strip, young guard Fateh icon Mohammad Dahalan tried to rally a crowd of 20,000 in a last-ditch effort to win the northern Gaza districts.

"Are you going to allow Hamas to take the north as they say they will?" he asked, to defiant cheers of his supporters. He added that Hamas should apologise to Fatah for calling the 1996 elections "treason", and "admit" that the Fatah plan - negotiations based on the Oslo Accords – ultimately "triumphed" (um...yeah..history lesson anyone?).

I guess even in battered Gaza one cannot escape the deluge of dirty election politics.

For more, check out my latest post in a 5-part series for the Guardian Unlimited (yeah yeah, so I'm using my blog to make a pitch for my other blog, but its hard to double-blog, and do my regular work for Aljazeera, and take care of Yousuf, so cut me some slack, :) )


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