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9 December 2004 – UN electoral personnel are to open two offices in the occupied Palestinian territories to help organize next month's presidential elections for a successor to Yasser Arafat, who died in November, it was announced today.
The world body has been asked by the Palestinian Authority to coordinate the hundreds of international observers who are expected to participate in the process, and it will open offices in Ramallah and Gaza to certify and accredit organizations that want to observe the elections, spokesman Fred Eckhard said.
The UN will draft a code of conduct for these organizations, which will issue their own separate statements based on their observation. Since the UN is heavily involved in the organization of the presidential ballot, it will not be acting as an observer.
The senior international advisor to the Palestinian Central Electoral Commission is UN electoral expert Pascal Soto, who has worked in various capacities in the electoral field for over a decade. Among those countries he has assisted - both through the UN and with other organizations - are South Africa, Mexico, Palestine, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Liberia, Western Sahara, East Timor, Haiti, Yemen, Peru, the Solomon Islands, Comoros, Côte d'Ivoire, Niger and Mali.