‘Polls were generally well-conducted’

  • observation by carter center, EU
- Post Report, Kathmandu

Dec 10, 2017-

The Carter Center and the European Union (EU), the two international observers of the elections to the House of Representatives and Provincial Assemblies, on Saturday said these polls were generally well-conducted. The country held the elections in two phases on November 26 and December 7. 

Unveiling the preliminary observation reports separately on Saturday, they however said that full assessment of the elections would be made public later by incorporating the issue of vote counting, which began right after elections concluded on December 7.

“Assuming the remaining stages of process are completed successfully and transparently, Nepal’s 2017 federal and provincial elections will be a positive step in implementing the new constitution and consolidating the political transitions,” the Carter Center said.

The Carter Center, whose observers visited 282 polling centres in two phases of elections, said that the conduct of voting was positive in 97 percent of polling centres. 

Similar was the assessment of the EU which had visited 633 polling centres in two phases. The EU observation mission said that the conduct of polling in 89 percent polling centres it visited was good or very good. “There was an assessment of bad conduct of polling recorded in 11 percent of the centres visited,” the EU mission noted. 

Both of them mentioned that they encountered some improper conducts regarding the secrecy of votes in the family voting and assisted voting, but also said they were isolated cases. They lauded the participation of voters in the elections despite threats of violence, with the Election Commission (EC) putting the voter turnout in the first phase of elections at 65 percent and nearly 70 percent in the second phase. 

According to the EU, since November 7, more than 150 violent incidents occurred throughout Nepal particularly with improvised explosive devices (IED), killing one temporary police personnel. 

Despite the violence designed to disrupt the electoral process, said Zeljana Zovko, EU chief observer, “the two election days showed that voters were not deterred”. 

Both the international observers pointed out the lack of adequate voter education for the elections but noted that the EC had limited time to implement it due to late adoption of election legislations and late decision of the ballot designs. 

The Carter Center said that voter education was used in Nepal in a “narrow manner”. “It is regrettable that more substantive efforts in educating voters about the overall political and electoral process were not undertaken,” says a preliminary report.

Both the international observers said that the Election Commission was more keen on enforcing code of conduct based on the authority it has been given by the law. “It didn’t take full advantage of its authority to instruct and control lower level election officials who often implemented procedures inconsistently. The code of conduct was not fully and equally enforced during the campaign,” said Surakiart Sathirathai, leader of Carter Center Mission in Nepal.

Both the Carter Center and EU missions showed concerns over non-transparency of the electoral finances. The EU, who saw two of its observers disqualified from observing the elections after being accused of breaching code of conduct, was relatively more critical of the poll body’s performance. 

“EU observers were denied access to 22 polling centres and were seriously restricted in their observation in 29 polling centres,” the EU Mission has said in its preliminary report. “Observers were also denied access to counting centres in ten districts during the first day of counting.”

 The EU also pointed out notable lack of transparency in the work of the EC which affected the electoral process. The EC did not establish mechanism for regular consultation with parties and civil society and also did not publish critical information on polling centre turnouts, it said.

Published: 10-12-2017 07:39

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