KATHMANDU May 12: The Election Commission (EC) has said it has completed all its preparatory work for conducting the first phase local elections scheduled for Sunday. With the completion of the administrative work and all the logistics in place, the election body is enforcing a 'silent period' for political parties, the media and other stakeholders effective from midnight Thursday .
The election body has said that political parties have to stop their publicity campaigns once the 'silent period' begins. During this period, parties are prohibited from organizing any mass gatherings or rallies, running publicity campaigns and carrying out other poll-related activities.
"We have completed all our preparatory work and the silent period is beginning from midnight tonight. Voters should collect their voter ID cards from their respective polling centers and cast the vote in a peaceful manner," said EC Spokesperson Surya Prasad Sharma.
According to Sharma, election officers have started to distribute voter ID cards at all 6,642 polling centers in the 283 local units. "They will continue distributing the cards until Saturday," he said adding, "In case a voter is unable to collect the card in person a family member can collect it. But the family member should produce documents establishing kinship, or else the card can be issued upon the recommendation of representatives of the political parties."
Election materials have already been transported to the polling centers. Apart from the security personnel to be mobilized for poll security, over 46,000 civil servants have been deployed to the local units in the three provinces where the elections are being held Sunday. "Everything is ready. We are only waiting to see the voters at the polling centers within the given time of 7 am to 5 pm, Sunday," Sharma said.
The local elections, which are taking place after a gap of some 20 years, are being taken as a major exercise in accordance with the new constitution. The second phase of local elections will be held in provinces 1, 2, 5 and 7 on June 14.
Altogether 49,337 candidates are contesting in the 283 local units of provinces 3, 4 and 6. A large number of women and people from the Dalit and marginalized communities are contesting. The total number of women candidates stands at 19,322 while the male candidates number 30,005.
The electoral law clearly states that the number of female candidates should be at least 40 percent of the total. It has also made it mandatory to field opposite genders for the chief and deputy chief of a given local unit. However, over 90 percent of candidates for the positions of chief are male.
Of the four members of a ward, two are reserved exclusively for females including one Dalit female.
Of the total 16,609 women candidates for ward members, 7,526 are from Dalit communities.