EU mission urges EC to maintain transparency

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Mar 21, 2018-

The European Union Election Observation Mission has said the Election Commission (EC) fails to ensure adequate transparency in its works despite performing its duty impartially and enjoying public confidence.

In its Final Election Observation Report unveiled on Tuesday, the EU Mission said the EC did not create a mechanism for regular consultations with political parties, civil society and observers at the central level.

The decisions, internal rules of procedure, and voter registration data by administrative unit and constituency were also not publicly available. The mission observed that the poll authority failed to publish critical information on polling centre turnout and invalid votes. The EC had published the turnout district-wise instead of polling centre-wise. The EU Mission argues that polling centre-wise turnout gives a clear picture at the local level.

Domestic observers also agree that lack of transparency had made some of the EC’s decisions controversial. For example, the EC’s decision to hold re-election in Bharatpur Metropolitan City after a few ballot papers were torn up and the decision to de-list the Rastriya Prajatantra Party (Prajatantrik) were widely criticised.

“The EC took the decision based on the letter of law, instead of following its spirit, which resulted in the controversy,” said Gopal Siwakoti, general secretary of the National Election Observation Committee, one of the biggest domestic election observers. 

“Transparency in its internal decision would have spared the constitutional body criticism.”

Election Commissioner Sudhir Shah said the EC is not subjected to make public all its decisions before submitting its report to the President, which it plans to do shortly. The EU Mission pointed to the EC’s failure of enforcing the election code of conduct properly despite enjoying extensive powers to punish transgression of the code by fining and disqualifying the candidate.

“Yet, the EC dealt with the complaints in a largely informal manner. This lack of enforcement undermined the integrity of the code,” it said. According to it, despite allegation that gifts both in cash and kind were given to voters, no single instance of vote buying was prosecuted.

According to the Election Commission Act, the poll body can slap a maximum fine of Rs100,000 for code violation. In cases of such offence by candidates, the EC is authorised to revoke their candidacy.

According to Siwakoti, the lack of punitive action created an environment of impunity. The EC worried more about holding the elections, irrespective of standards of the electoral process.

However, the EC maintains that it did not consider punitive action after many code violators did not repeat their acts once they were warned. “We also can’t expect standards as high as those applicable in the UK and the US in Nepal at a time when the EC was forced to hold so many elections in less than a year,” said Shah.



To consider

  • EC’s decision to hold re-poll in Bharatpur after some ballots were torn questioned
  • EU Mission points to EC’s failure to enforce the election code of conduct properly
  • We can’t expect standards as high as those applicable in the UK and the US here in Nepal at a time when the EC was forced to hold so many elections in less than a year, says Commissioner Shah

Published: 21-03-2018 07:23

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