Hold provincial, parliamentary polls together, PM tells EC

Kathmandu, August 7

Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba today told office bearers of the Election Commission to make preparations for holding both provincial and parliamentary polls simultaneously.

According to a press release issued by the PM’s Secretariat, the PM told EC office bearers to hold   elections simultaneously so as to   reduce election expenditure and to ensure that the constitutional deadline to hold the polls was met.

As per the constitution, all kinds of elections should be held before January 21.

The PM told EC office bearers that two election-related bills would soon be passed by the Parliament and the Constituency Delimitation Commission would also submit its report to the government on the stipulated date.

EC office bearers advised the PM to use electronic voting machines for holding both elections simultaneously, according to the release issued by the PM’s Secretariat.

According to a press release issued by the Election Commission, EC office bearers urged the PM to announce poll dates on August 17.

Election Commissioner Ila Sharma told THT that EC office bearers told the PM to incorporate provisions relating to NOTA in the election related bills. NOTA gives voters an option to vote for ‘none of the above’ candidates. EC office bearers also reminded the PM that the Supreme Court had issued a directive to the government telling it to incorporate NOTA in election laws. EC office bearers also told the PM that the government should make it clear soon whether it would   use EVMs or ballot papers so that the EC could start preparations accordingly. “If we have to use EVMs, we will carry out our voter education accordingly. We have little time left for all these things,” Sharma added.

Sharma said EC office bearers told the PM that the election laws should not give power to political parties to fill 20 per cent more or fewer candidates under certain categories of proportional representation seats. “It is learnt that the government is considering to incorporate this provision. If that happens then there will be no meaning of proportional representation,” Sharma added.

EC office bearers told the PM that there should be a provision in election related bills to grant the EC power to do the needful to ensure voting rights of Nepalis living abroad.

Sharma said the PM was of the view that in case the EC used EVMs it should ensure that the process would be user-friendly.

EC office bearers told the PM that the EC would enforce election code of conduct in Province 2 from August 17.

Another Commissioner, Narendra Dahal, said EC office bearers told the PM that in case EVMs had to be used in the provincial and parliamentary elections, the government should help the EC procure EVMs. “The EC cannot purchase EVMs now due to lengthy process of procurement laws,” he added.