As the date for elections of the House of Representatives and Provincial Assemblies is coming closer, the Election Commission Nepal (ECN), the government and political parties have accelerated preparations for the same. The election body has lately appointed the chief returning officers and the returning officers for conducting the elections slated for November 20. It is committed to holding the elections in a free, fair and impartial manner. The government is also working to ensure proper poll security arrangements. The President has allowed the government to mobilise the Nepali Army (NA) in the upcoming polls as well. The government aims to deploy around 300,000 security personnel, including nearly 75,000 army personnel. It has also initiated the process of hiring 115,000 temporary police personnel. The remaining security personnel for the polls will be managed from the Nepal Police, Armed Police Force (APF) and the National Investigation Department (NID). The NA staffers are going to be mobilised for the security of ballot paper printing, its transportation, protection of polling centres and disposal of explosives.
Similarly, the political parties that are taking part in the imminent polls are now busy selecting candidates and drafting the election manifestoes. No doubt, free elections are the basis for democratic governance and political stability. Voters can vote for candidates of their choice when there is a congenial situation for conducting fair elections. The political parties as key stakeholders, have a pivotal role to play in ensuring fair election process leading to voting, ballot transportation, counting of votes, and acceptance of poll results. The drafting of the election code of conduct and its implementation is also part of the poll preparations. Leaders of different political parties have expressed their firm commitment to the poll code of conduct prepared by the election body for the upcoming elections. Prime Minister and President of the Nepali Congress (NC) Sher Bahadur Deuba, and leaders of various parties, including the CPN (UML), CPN (Maoist Centre), the CPN (Unified Socialist) and Loktantrik Samajwadi Party, were at the Election Commission on Sunday to demonstrate their commitment to the election code of conduct. Such commitments from the political stakeholders are crucial for fair elections.
After having singed the election code of conduct, Prime Minister Deuba extended a vote of thanks to the ECN for the latter’s commitment to an effective execution of the election code of conduct and inviting him for holding discussions on matters related to it. Meanwhile, representatives of various other parties have shown their discontent over some provisions included in the code of conduct and called for making necessary changes in it. The provision in the poll code that the prime minister, ministers of the federal government and the chief ministers and ministers of the provinces cannot go beyond their constituencies for canvassing has been a bone of contention. They urged the commission to amend some impractical provisions in the election code in order to make it more realistic.
Responding to the feedback given by the political party representatives, Chief Election Commissioner Dinesh Kumar Thapaliya stated that the ECN was open to have suggestions in regard to the implementation of the code of conduct. He hinted that the provisions that may cause obstacles to the enforcement of the poll code could be amended even after its publication in the Nepal Gazette. Its effective implementation is possible when the election body and the political parties forge a consensus.