Observers warn of illegal deals in silence period

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Dec 6, 2017-In the silence period that began on Monday midnight, election observers are concerned about trading of votes by candidates with cash, kind and feasts until hours before polling begins on Thursday morning.

Observers claim that votes of marginalised communities in particular are traded in bulk during the silence period, a practice believed to have been going on for quite some time.

Election observers believe that candidates distribute cash and kind besides organising feasts with drinks during the silence period especially at the settlements of low-income groups and remote places the night before the vote to influence votes.

The Election Commission, however, says it is difficult to discourage such activities as they happen in a discreet manner, leaving no evidence. Asked how such practices could be controlled, Chief Election Commissioner Ayodhee Prasad Yadav told a press meet on Sunday that the EC believed voters are “aware of their rights and won’t be carried away” by such efforts.

Three election observer organisations said after the first phase of federal and provincial elections that the trend of candidates making false promises, organising feasts and campaigning aggressively had continued.

Voters’ Rights Forum Nepal Chairman Bhakta Bishwokarma said political parties were also found to be vigilant in several places about cash distribution by their opponents. 

Worryingly, many believe they in fact are on the lookout for chances to distribute money in the guise of watch.

According to Pradip Pokhrel, president of the Election Observation Committee Nepal, the EC should deploy government officers as special observers across the country to monitor such activities besides authorising security personnel to seize suspected materials.

He cited an example of how the use of caps and T-shirts carrying election symbols was curbed after the EC’s stern warning to the parties and even the manufacturers. 

“Caps and T-shirts were rampantly used during the first and second phases of local level polls but they were not seen during the third phase of local level elections and the first phase of federal and provincial polls,” said Pokhrel.

Published: 06-12-2017 07:32

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