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Security tops agenda for poll observers

- PRITHVI MAN SHRESTHA, Kathmandu
The election body has approved mobilisation of more than 45,000 observers, representing domestic and international observation groups

Dec 5, 2017-The Election Commission (EC) has given permission to 52 domestic observing institutions and four international observer groups to monitor the second phase of federal parliament and provincial assembly elections to be held this Thursday.

The election body has approved mobilisation of more than 45,000 observers, representing domestic and international observer groups.

While poll security remains the common concern, local observers will be focusing on certain areas related to code of conduct violations during their observation missions.

The Nepal Election Observation Committee (NEOC), the largest election observation body in the country, is mobilising more than 2,000 observers for the elections which are taking place in 45 districts.

“Considering the ongoing explosions, we are focusing more on security aspects during the elections,” said Kapil Shrestha, vice-chairperson of NEOC.

“But we will also be keeping an eye on other aspects such as multiple voting and booth captures which hurt free and fair elections.”

As well as mobiling long-term, short-term and mobile observers, NEOC has also arranged a call centre where it receives reports about the situation in each district on daily basis.

“We are not only paying attention to the election day but also to the days before and after the elections,” said Shrestha.

Security will be the top agenda for Scope Nepal, another local observation group, which is taking stock of situation in 35 districts during the second phase of polls.

“We have a team of experts on security which remains our main concern during the elections,” said Abhay Raj Joshi, chairperson of Scope Nepal.

Over the past couple of weeks, hardly a day has passed without reports of blasts targeting a candidate or an election campaign.

According to Joshi, threats from cross-border criminal elements is another big concern for the second phase of elections.

The Election Observation Committee Nepal (EOCN), another local observation body, is keeping tab on campaign finance. Its study on the local level elections showed that Rs69.42 billion was spent in the polls held over three phases in May, June and September.

EOCN President Pradip Pokharel said that they were sending observers with questionnaires to be filled out by the candidates for a study. The EOCN is mobilising 235 observers in the second phase of elections. “Our other focus areas are participation of Dalits and physically challenged people in the elections,” Pokharel said.

The Democracy Resource Centre (DRC) is meanwhile keeping track of political environment, security situation, election procedure and voters’ educations. DRC Director Sudeep Pokharel said it has mobilised 49 observers in 24 districts.

Published: 05-12-2017 08:41

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