EC decides re-polling in Bharatpur Ward 19

Ballot papers of the ward affected by the act have been declared illegitimate and voting has been scrapped

Jun 4, 2017-The Election Commission (EC) on Saturday decided to hold re-election in Ward 19 of Bharatpur Metropolitan City, with one of the commissioners objecting to the decision.  

CPN (Maoist Centre) representatives had allegedly torn ballot papers when vote counting was underway at around 11:45pm on Sunday. On Thursday, election authorities and party representatives had found 90 ballot papers torn. The chief election officer of Chitwan, who was tasked with counting the torn ballot papers, had submitted his report to the EC.

“The report suggests the vote counting centre was illegitimately taken under control, hence the ballot papers of ward affected by the act have been declared illegitimate and voting [of May 14] of the concerned area has been scrapped as per Clause 50 (4) of the Local Level Election Act 2017,” a press release issued by EC Spokesperson Surya Prasad Sharma reads. 

The EC, however, has not fixed the date and location for re-election yet. It has instructed the chief election officer of Chitwan to fix the date and polling centre for re-election.

EC officials said that the decision was taken as per the existing law. “While taking the decision, past precedent was also taken into consideration,” said an EC official. 

In 1997 local elections, the EC had conducted re-election in then Amalachaur Village Development Committee of Baglung after UML cadres allegedly looted ballot papers and documents related to nomination of candidates when vote counting was underway.

Of the 29 wards in Bharatpur Metropolitan City, counting of votes from Ward 19 and 20 was only remaining. 

CPN-UML’s Devi Gyawali was leading Maoist Centre’s Renu Dahal, daughter of Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, when the fracas resulted in the halt of counting.

The Nepali Congress and the Maoist Centre, who jointly fielded Renu for the post of mayor as per an electoral alliance between them, had been demanding re-election, while the UML had been calling for immediate resumption of vote counting. 

The UML has objected to the EC decision, saying it is unacceptable to the party.

The decision to hold re-election was taken by four of the five commissioners including Chief Election Commissioner Ayodhee Prasad Yadav. Opposing the decision, Election Commissioner Narendra Dahal refused to sign on the decision. 

Experts said a unanimous decision would have been better in such a serious issue. 

Former chief election commissioner Neel Kantha Upreti said political colour should not be reflected in EC decisions. “They must shed their political affinity once they take the oath of office to lead the election body,” he said. Upreti, however, did not 

question the legality of the decision taken by the EC on Saturday.

Published: 04-06-2017 07:59

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