EC wants power to announce poll dates
Kathmandu, November 5
The Election Commission is miffed at the government for turning down its suggestion to let the election body announce election dates.
The Bill to Amend and Codify Laws Related to Functions, Duties and Powers of the Election Commission, registered at the Parliament, states that the government, in consultation with the Election Commission, shall announce election dates except when provisioned otherwise in federal laws.
Election Commissioner Ila Sharma said her office had prepared the draft of the bill proposing that the EC would announce election dates and the same should not have been removed by the government. “This is a key provision central to EC’s autonomy,” she said, adding, “Similar provision was incorporated in the Member of House of Representatives Act, 1990, which the EC wants to retain.”
Sharma added that the EC had announced election dates in the past except on a couple of occasions. “If the EC cannot announce poll dates, why should we have the EC?” she wondered.
Sharma said the logic behind giving the power to announce poll dates was that the election body could maintain its autonomy and could do its duty impartially. “Denying the EC the power to announce poll dates and removing other key electoral reforms that the EC had suggested is a conspiracy against our democracy,” said Sharma.
Not giving EC the power to announce polls means that political parties do not want to see EC functioning as a capable body
- Neelkantha Uprety, former CEC
Human Rights lawyer Dinesh Tripathi said giving power to the EC to announce poll dates was vital for democracy worked as a check and balance. “Often the ruling parties want to hold elections at a time that suits their political interests and this can be checked only by giving EC the power to announce poll dates,” Tripathi argued.
Tripathi said if EC was given power to announce poll dates that would enable it to hold periodic elections on time.
Former chief election commissioner Neelkantha Uprety said the new electoral reforms that the EC had suggested in election related bills were the outcome of two to three years of hard work that EC had done with inputs from experts and the government should not have ignored those reforms. “Not giving EC the power to announce polls means that political parties do not want to see EC functioning as a capable body,” he added.
Former chief election commissioner Bhoj Raj Pokharel said he agreed in principle that the EC should have the power to announce poll dates but given the fluid political situation in the country, it might become problematic if political parties did not participate in elections.
“We have seen that the government has to woo political parties to take part in elections. In case the EC announces poll dates and the parties do not take part in election, that may put the credibility of the EC at stake,” he argued.