March 23, 2018 05:50 AM NPT
KATHMANDU, March 23: The Election Commission (EC) on Thursday said it 'totally rejects' the final poll observation report prepared by the European Union Election Observation Mission (EUEOM).
Three days after EUEOM released the report, the election body said it has breached the poll observation code of conduct meant for international poll observers and the MoU signed with the EC. The election body has termed the report and a press statement issued by the poll observation group as "misleading", "baseless" and "in contravention of the international poll observation code of conduct".
"Since the report and press statement issued by the organization appears to be misleading, baseless and against the international poll observation code of conduct the EC totally rejects the report," states a press statement issued by the election body on Thursday.
Stating that the election body remains always positive towards acknowledging positive feedback for reforming the electoral system, the EC said the report goes counter to the memorandum of understanding signed between EUEOM and the EC. After going through the report, the EC has concluded that it has breached at least 12 points in the code of conduct.
EUEOM had signed the MoU with the election body on October 24, 2017.
Stating its disagreement with the EU report, the EC Board has hinted at being even more serious while scrutinizing international poll observation groups while allowing them to monitor elections in coming days.
Starting May 14, last year, Nepal conducted three sets of elections--local, provincial and parliamentary as well as the election of the president and the vice-president.
In its report, EUEOM has accused EC of not maintaining transparency while conducting the three sets of crucial elections. The poll observation team has suggested to the election body to 'enhance the transparency of the EC through regular consultations with stakeholders and timely publication of all information of public interest'.
The mission had stated that the election body's work lacked transparency although it performed its duties impartially and enjoyed public confidence. "There was, for example, no mechanism for regular consultations with election stakeholders, and the EC failed to publish critical information on polling center turnout and invalid votes," the report stated,
"There were also procedural weaknesses, particularly in relation to the reconciliation of ballots. Voter education was also inadequate, in some areas non-existent."
The poll observation group has also accused the EC of not punishing election code violators despite having extensive powers to hold political parties and candidates accountable to the election code. "…yet it dealt with complaints in a largely informal manner, requesting that those in violation stop the behavior complained of. This lack of enforcement undermined the integrity of the code," stated the report.
The report has also opposed the quota system for Brahmins and Chhetris in the elections. "The quota system, in an effort to promote gender and social inclusion, also includes groups that are already well-represented," the report states, "This is arguably in contravention of international standards on equality, as affirmative action measures are foreseen only as a means to promote equality."