General

EC calls for greater power, refutes vote rigging claims

- Ekantipur Report, KATHMANDU
The election commissioners have refuted the allegation of irregularities in the November 19 Constituent Assembly polls.
In response to the parliamentary probe panel’s query over vote rigging charge levelled against the Election Commission, the commissioners on Thursday claimed that there were no wrongdoings on the EC's part other than some minor technical mistakes owing to the absence of administrative and technical autonomy. They also demanded that the election governing body should be empowered and granted "full autonomy" through the constitution.
Chief Election Commissioner Neel Kantha Uprety said weak mandate given to the EC, over politicisation of bureaucracy, and violation of election code of conduct by the parties were chiefly to blame for the technical lapses that occurred during the CA polls. "Although the Interim Constitution has recognised the commission as a constitutional election body, the constitution and the government have curtailed it from working freely," he said. “To ensure the periodic elections either the election date should be written in the constitution or the right to declare poll date should be given to the commission."
Uprety also said that there were a lot of things the EC needs to do from its side to improve the electoral system.
The election commissioners have asked the government, political parties and other stakeholders to provide the EC with more administrative and economic autonomy, and the right to take action against those officials found guilty in the poll. During the CA election, they said, there were some technical mistakes in some districts caused by politicised bureaucrats, but the government still condoned their misconduct.  
 “The government never takes action against them when we recommend to punish the guilty individuals.” said Dolakh Bahadur Gurung, one of the election commissioners. He added that the election bodies in countries like India, Australia and Mexico have full autonomy while holding the polls.
The parliamentary committee formed under lawmaker Laxman Lal Karna to investigate into alleged vote rigging has been critical of the EC for "failing to enforce election code of conduct, create equal-level playing grounds for the parties contesting in the election, and maintain transparency of the political parties".
CPN-UML lawmaker Bhim Rawal claimed that there were rampant violations of election code of conduct during the CA polls. UCPN (Maoist) lawmaker Rekha Sharma said EC let some candidates spend ten times more money than they were allowed to for campaigning.
 
Published: 2014-08-22 03:00:00