EC unveils its makeover plans

Kathmandu, March 12:

The Election Commission today unveiled a five-year strategic plan to develop itself as

an independent, unbiased and efficient body to conduct

fair polls.

The Strategic Plan 2009 outlines the Election Commission’s vision, mission, guiding principles, goals, targets, strategic issues and challenges, apart from assessing its strengths and weaknesses.

In the five-year plan, the EC has set its objectives to reform the election system, procedures and electoral role, improve awareness among the voters, develop human resources and physical infrastructure, and improve collaboration with stakeholders, besides effecting better monitoring and evaluation system.

According to the plan, the Election Commission targets to limit the distance between the voters residence and polling booths to five km within two years, reduce the processing time prior to voting to three minutes, test Braille ballot papers in five constituencies, manage mobile voting in hospitals having a minimum of 100 beds and elderly homes with at least 25 people, undertake feasibility study of pre-voting and absentee-voting, and prepare voters’ list accompanied with photographs.

The plan also includes managing for research facilities at election information centres and publishing a quarterly journal highlighting the activities of the commission. The EC boasts of earning international reputation by accomplishing the constituent assembly election, keeping computerised records of the voters and its activities and maintaining an independent constitutional status since 1962.

Lack of infrastructure in all districts, problem in retaining its staff and not having the mandate of declaring the date for election have been listed as weaknesses of the commission.

Nilkantha Upreti, acting chief election commissioner, said the election assessment workshops were organised in participation of political party representatives, leaders of the civil society, civil servants, journalists and donor agencies before drafting the strategy.

Preparing an appendix of the stakeholders, the strategic plan has also defined their role to make the election fair. Mid-term assessment of the plan would be held after two years, Upreti said.