A member of the Palestinian security force dips his finger in ink after casting his ballot in early voting for the Palestinian municipal elections in Ramallah, West Bank, October 18, 2012. The general population will vote on Saturday, October 20, in the long delayed local elections, which Hamas is boycotting. It is the first Palestinian election since 2005. UPI/Debbie Hill | License Photo
RAMALLAH, West Bank, Oct. 22 (UPI) -- Rebel candidates won in local elections in three West Bank cities, a disappointing showing for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party, observers said.
The elections Saturday -- boycotted by the rival Hamas organization, which called them illegal -- were the first in the West Bank since 2006.
Candidates who had been kicked out of the Fatah movement for running against the party's official Fatah candidates were elected to municipal offices in Jenin, Ramallah and Nablus, Palestinian media reports said.
Official Fatah candidates won in Hebron, Jericho, Tulkarm, Qalqilya and al-Bireh, the Israeli daily Haaretz said.
Hanan Ashrawi, a senior member of the Palestinian Liberation Organization but not a member of Fatah, said voters chose some independent candidates to punish Fatah. He said the results showed a divide between rural and urban areas.
Mustafa al-Barghouti, a Palestinian member of Parliament, told Ma'an the elections were long overdue and said the results showed the Palestinian people do not trust their current leadership.
The Palestinian Central Elections Committee said about 54 percent of eligible voters participated in the elections .
Final results are expected to be released Tuesday.