56 organisations permitted to monitor elections

Kathmandu, November 2

The Election Commission has approved four international and 52 domestic organisations for monitoring the upcoming parliamentary and provincial elections slated for November 26 and December 7.

The four international organisations are the Carter Centre, the European Union, Asian Network for Free Elections, and Peru-based Ankawa International.

Japan International Cooperation Agency has also applied with the EC for election monitoring, but due to elections in Japan it has yet to submit complete details and has asked the EC for some time, according to Under Secretary Mukunda Sharma, who heads the EC’s Planning, Monitoring and Inclusive Section. “Jica has said it will soon submit the details, and we will hopefully issue it the approval for election monitoring,” he said. “It has said it will deploy a small team.” As far as domestic organisations are concerned, a total of 55 such entities had applied for permission to monitor the elections. The EC approved 52 applications.

The EC had, on September 9, called for applications from international organisations that wanted to monitor the elections. For domestic organisations, the applications were called on September 22. The extended deadline for submission of applications was October 15.

Presently, the approved applicants are forwarding the details of their observers and election centres they will visit to the EC. Once the EC receives all the details, it will issue identity cards to the observers. Sharma said the exact number of observers would be ascertained only after issuance of identity cards, but he estimated around 350 international and around 17,000 domestic observers.

The EU has already deployed its Election Observation Mission to Nepal. It has said the mission will observe both phases of elections and will remain in Nepal until the completion of the electoral process. At full strength, the mission will comprise more than 100 observers.

In order to facilitate observers, the EC is presently developing resource materials, including all the information election observers need to have. Once the resource materials are ready, they will be circulated to the organisations permitted to monitor the elections.

The EC also plans to conduct a one-day orientation programme for observers in which the EC will provide information about the election process, voting centres and political parties, among others. “We will invite two individuals from each organisation for the orientation programme,” said Sharma.

While monitoring elections, all election observers will have to abide by the code of conduct issued by the EC. According to the election code, observers shall exercise their role with impartiality, objectivity and independence and shall at no time indicate or express any political bias or preference. Observer groups shall also be accurate and comprehensive in their review of the election and must consider all factors that affect the electoral process when issuing statements and reports.

Sharma said the gist of the code is: “Observers can do nothing but watch the election process from a certain distance, write whatever they have seen, and prepare a report.”