Ex-CECs concerned about government decision

Kathmandu, April 27

Former chief election commissioners and civil society members today expressed serious concern about the government’s decision to amend the constitution just ahead of the upcoming local level elections.

They said amending the statute ahead of polls would raise questions over the fairness of elections.  “Such decisions directly influence voters,” said former CEC Nilkantha Upreti, adding political parties in favour of amendment would directly benefit from such a policy-level decision. He said the election code of conduct prohibited the government from taking any policy decision.

Along with Upreti, former CEC Surya Prasad Shrestha, former chief of the Constitutional Committee of the first Constituent Assembly Nilamber Acharya, constitutional expert Bipin Adhikari, local self-governance experts — Hikmat Bista, Shyam Bhurtel, Mukti Rijal — and former chairman of Association of District Development Committees Krishna Prasad Sapkota today reached the EC central office to draw its attention to violation of election code of conduct by the government and ruling parties. They asked polls panel to play an effective role to ensure free and fair elections.

“We urged EC to hold local polls at once throughout the country on May 14,” said Upreti. He said the polls panel has completed 95 per cent of preparation and was able to conduct polls at once throughout the country. Former CECs and civil society members expressed concern about the government’s decision to hold second phase elections after unveiling a new budget. This, they said, was against the norms and contradicted with the election code of conduct enforced by the EC. They said announcement of the budget just a few days before the elections could influence voters.

They have also expressed concern about the government’s preparations to increase the number of local levels in some Tarai districts.