Officials at the Ministry of Home Affairs said that the ballot boxes from the polling stations which were near the district headquarters were brought to the district headquarters on Sunday itself.
KATHMANDU, Nov 27: As the security of the ballot boxes remains the main concern of all political parties, the government has made an arrangement to first collect the ballot boxes at nearby collection centers before transporting them to the district headquarters on Monday.
Officials at the Ministry of Home Affairs said that the ballot boxes from the polling stations which were near the district headquarters were brought to the district headquarters on Sunday itself. The decision to keep the ballot boxes at the collection centers, mostly at police outposts, was taken to avoid possible damage to or destruction of the ballot boxes while being transported from the far-flung villages.
In the first phase of the parliamentary and provincial elections on Sunday, 32 districts in the hilly and mountainous region voted. Officials said there are many polling stations in districts which take up to a week's walk to reach from the district headquarters, so they decided not to bring the ballot boxes immediately on Sunday.
Prime Minister and Home Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba's security expert Ek Mani Nepal said the ballot boxes, except for those belonging to the polling stations near the concerned district headquarters, were brought to nearby collection centers in each election constituency. Nepal Police, Armed Police Force, temporary police and Nepal Army personnel will jointly provide security to the ballot boxes at the collection centers.
The home ministry plans to transport the ballot boxes to the district headquarters on Monday. While motor vehicles will be used to transport the ballot boxes from areas with road access, helicopters will be used to transport the ballot boxes from remote villages. Representatives of major political parties will accompany the ballot boxes during transport.
As the political parties have reached an understanding to start counting the votes only after the conclusion of the second phase of the elections, which are scheduled to be held in 45 districts on December 7, an arrangement has been made to keep the ballot boxes safe at the district administration office or district police office or district coordination committee office. Security personnel will guard the ballot boxes in the presence of representatives of political parties.
Addressing a press conference organized at the EC on Sunday evening, Chief Election Commissioner Ayodhee Prasad Yadav said they have already started bringing ballot boxes to the office of the chief returning officers based in concerned district headquarters. "The ballot boxes collected this way will be under the management and direct supervision and control of the chief returning officer or returning officer," said Yadav.
Yadav also said that arrangement has been made to keep the ballot boxes in a secure manner in consensus and consultation among chief returning officer, returning officer, security agencies and political parties as well as election candidates. "An arrangement has been made to start vote counting after the second phase of polls is held on December 7," he further said.