EC seeks more authority for free, fair polls

Kathmandu, November 13

The Election Commission has urged parliamentarians to provide it with more authority through three proposed election-related bills for making general elections free and fair.

“The Election Commission should get the authority to announce poll dates, manage officials for poll purposes and take action against officials who violate election laws and ethics,” said Chief Election Commissioner Ayodhi Prasad Yadav, speaking at today’s meeting of the State Affairs Committee of the Parliament.

Three election-related bills – Bill to Amend and Integrate Laws Related to Functions, Duties and Powers of Election Commission; Bill to Amend and Integrate Laws Related to Political Parties and Bill to Amend and Integrate Laws Related to Voters’ List – registered by the government are under consideration in the Parliament.

Passage of the bills will clear the way for hold ing polls, including local bodies polls that will take place in the first phase.

The committee began discussion on bills that were forwarded to it by the full house of the Parliament for further discussion.

Stating that questions were raised against the independent role of security personnel and government officials deputed in the elections in the past, Yadav said, “The commission should be equipped with the authority to take action against those violating laws and ethics. However, the commission’s action should be rational and based on facts.”

Yadav alleged that security personnel and government officials worked under the influence of specific political parties. He added that there should be legal provision that authorised the commission to take prompt action if anyone was found violating election ethics or laws.

Making elections free and fair remains the responsibility of the commission, Yadav said, adding, “So the commission should have the authority to manage election activities, including announcement of poll date(s).”

NC lawmaker Amaresh Kumar Singh demanded that the role of Non-governmental Organisations be disallowed in the EC’s work if it is to be made stronger.

Rastriya Janamorcha Party’s leader Chitra Bahadur KC suggested that political parties not make appointments to the EC based on political affiliation if polls were to be made free and fair.

Prem Suwal of Nepal Workers’ and Peasants’ Party said provision of vote threshold for political parties should be scrapped.

Responding to queries, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs Bimalendra Nidhi said the government was committed to holding three levels of elections – local polls, provincial polls and polls for federal parliament -- within the stipulated time.

As three bills were presented in the Parliament by assessing all aspects in a rational way, they should be passed by the Parliament at the earliest for clearing the way for elections, DPM Nidhi said.