Embassies seek EC nod to observe polls outside Ktm

- PRITHVI MAN SHRESTHA, Kathmandu

Apr 29, 2017-

More than half a dozen foreign embassies have urged the Election Commission (EC) to allow them to observe the local elections both inside and outside Kathmandu Valley. The election body had earlier agreed to let them observe the polls in the Valley on the polling day.

Representatives of the diplomatic missions, including those from the United States, Norway and Israel, met with EC officials on Thursday and requested them for a permit to visit outside Kathmandu for poll observations.

EC Spokesperson Surya Prasad Sharma confirmed that there had been discussion with the foreign 

diplomats, but declined to divulge details. But sources within the EC were more forthcoming.

“The representatives of the diplomatic missions expressed their wishes to observe the elections outside the Valley too, saying that their observations could enhance credibility of the elections,” a senior official at the EC, requesting anonimity. 

While the EC has denied requests from international election monitors for observations of the local elections by issuing a directive, it has taken out a policy that allows the diplomatic missions to observe the elections. 

“They said that they had concerns over the local elections taking place outside the Valley too because the elected local bodies would be responsible for carrying out many development projects assisted by foreign donors,” said the official, adding that the EC had assured the diplomats that they would consider 

their requests and take a necessary decision.

Under the policy, the diplomatic missions cannot issue any statements about the electoral process to the public and the media during and after the elections unlike other designated election monitors. They are also prohibited from talking to the voters, entering polling stations.

Besides, they cannot assign local staff for the job. They should refrain from carrying, wearing and displaying any electoral materials or any article of clothing, badge, pictures, symbols and other items denoting support for or against any political entity. They can de-brief about their visit to the EC a week before and after their observations.

Meanwhile, the election body has communicated with the diplomatic missions through the Foreign Ministry, asking them to send names of the representatives for the purpose. “We sent the letter about 10 days ago and we are yet to get the names,” an EC official said. 

No to Carter Center

Election Commission has turned down The Carter Center’s request to allow it to monitor the local elections scheduled for May 14 and June 14. The international elector observer, established by former US President Jimmy Carter, had applied to the EC requesting for permission to observe elections of local levels, provincial and federal parliament.

“We wrote to The Carter Centre about 10 days ago, turning down its request for observation of the local elections,” a senior EC official said. As per the Local Election Observation Directive-2017, the EC cannot allow international observers to monitor the local elections.

Defending the move, the EC said it was following the past tradition of allowing only domestic observers to monitor the local elections.

 

Call centre, mobile app launched

KATHMANDU: The Election Commission on Friday launched a call centre and a mobile app for providing information about the upcoming local elections that are due to take place in two phases on May 14 and June 14. According to the EC, the call centre will provide information from 8am to 8pm every day until June 17.

“People can dial 16600144222 and obtain information about the elections,” said Surya Prasad Aryal, information officer at the EC. The calls made through the Nepal Telecom numbers will be toll free.

The EC also launched mobile app--ECN App--which can be downloaded from EC’s official website as well as on smartphones operating on IOS and android systems. As well as the election schedules, people can obtain information about voters, polling stations, poll candidates and election results over the app, the EC said. (PR)

Published: 29-04-2017 08:27

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