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Palestine | International

Israeli soldiers beat election candidate
by AL Jazeera (repost)
Wednesday Dec 8th, 2004 3:25 PM
Palestinian presidential candidate Mustafa al-Barghuthi has accused Israeli soldiers of molesting him and trying to disrupt the upcoming election.
"I was coming back from an election meeting in the Jenin area when we were stopped by Israeli soldiers near Sanur village," he told reporters on Wednesday.

"The soldiers hit my two bodyguards in the stomach and the head, and when I tried to intervene by saying who I was they struck me in the neck with a rifle butt," he said.
"Then the soldiers forced us to sit on the ground for an hour near our car before letting us go," said al-Barghuthi, who added he was to be examined at a hospital in Ram Allah.

Earlier on Wednesday al-Barghuthi, a prominent independent candidate, told a press conference that Israel was not allowing candidates freedom of movement within the West Bank and between the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

"The Israeli occupation authorities have been barring me from travelling to the Gaza Strip. How can we conduct an effective and orderly election campaign if one is unable to meet one's supporters?" he said.

He revealed he had already contacted EU officials, including German Foreign Minister Joshka Fischer and Spanish Foreign Minister Megel Moratinos, to inform them of these obstacles.

Protest threat

"We give Israel 36 hours to lift these restrictions. If they don't, we will start a series of public protests for the purpose of showing that Israel's declared commitment to facilitate our election is not genuine."

Al-Barghuthi also indirectly accused unnamed Arab countries of interfering in the Palestinian elections.

"There are certain sides that have already declared the winner even before the organisation of the election," he said.

Al-Barghuthi pointed out that the international community and Israel were giving Fatah's official candidate, Mahmud Abbas, preferential treatment, which he said constituted a tacit interference in the election process.

"He can travel both inside and outside Palestine unfettered, but I can't reach Gaza."

Aljazeera and Agencies

http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/0136AEF0-6673-458C-9FF0-11E912E0A799.htm