Home Ministry rolls out election security plan

- KAMAL DEV BHATTARAI, Kathmandu

Oct 14, 2017-

The Ministry of Home Affairs has finalised a comprehensive security plan for the federal and provincial parliamentary elections scheduled to be held together on November 26 and December 7.

The ministry prepared the plan after incorporating suggestions from the Election Commission and other stakeholders. The EC on Thursday held extensive discussions with Home Ministry officials and heads of security agencies about the security arrangements.

State Minister for Home Affairs Shyam Shrestha told the Post that the plan also incorporates the lessons drawn from the recently held local level elections.

The ministry has classified polling stations into three categories—normal, sensitive and highly sensitive—in terms of security challenges. According to sources, some Tarai districts are “highly sensitive” from the security point of view.

“I don’t want to disclose the actual number of personnel to be deployed during the elections but all the security forces will be mobilised,” said Shrestha.

The EC has asked the ministry to focus on effective coordination and collaboration among the agencies. The security bodies have been directed to make special arrangements for the security of top leaders who will be contesting the polls in the first-past-the-post category.

The poll authority has also alerted the government to devise measures in view of possible snowfall in the mountain region. The government provides security for voters, at the polling stations, for transportation of ballot papers, and of the counting stations.

As per the plan, all the four agencies—Nepal Police, the Armed Police Force, Nepal Army and the National Investigation Department—will be deployed. The Home Ministry has prepared a special security plan for some Tarai districts which are volatile from the security perspective. The Army has communicated to the EC that it will establish its base camps a month before the polling day. The NA has underlined the need for effective coordination at the top level to ensure security.

Security forces on the ground have been authorised to open fire if any people or groups resort to violence. Compared to the local level elections held earlier, according to officials, there is a “comfortable” security situation this time around as all the parties except the Netra Bikram Chand-led Nepal Communist Party are participating in the elections. Former chief election commissioner Surya Prasad Shrestha agrees with the general assessment.

During the earlier polls, mainly in the plains, there was a threat from armed groups but they are almost non-existent now, said officials. The major threat is potential clashes between cadres of the major parties in the fray. “An unhealthy competition among the parties could pose a challenge to the elections,” Election Commissioner Sudhir Kumar Shah told Home Ministry officials

Published: 14-10-2017 07:48

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