KATHMANDU, Jan 20: Former chief election commissioners and experts have suggested to the Election Commission (EC) to decide whether it is possible to hold the polls in May-June based on preparations made by the government and political parties' commitment to election.
The suggestion from former election chiefs and experts comes at a time when the election body is in a fix over starting the actual preparations to hold the local elections.
"They [parties] may put pressure on you at the last moment. But you have to make sure on your own whether the election can take place," said former chief election commissioner Bhojraj Pokharel after inquiring election preparations made by the commission so far.
Pokharel was for putting pressure on the government and political parties to clear hurdles in time or speak up clearly if holding election is not possible. In a meeting held at the EC headquarters, former election commissioners asked the election commissioners to begin actual preparations only after the government clears legal hurdles, fixes polls date and parties agree to participate in the elections.
Amid confusion over whether the local elections could take place in the context of government dilly-dallying to create election-friendly environment, the former heads and stakeholders were summoned at the EC headquarters to seek their views. Former chief election commissioners Pokharel, Neel Kantha Uprety, Surya Prasad Shrestha and Keshav Raj Rajbhandari and other commissioners, retired election secretaries and civil society leaders were present at the meeting.
At the meeting, according to the participants, the election commissioners briefed their former
bosses about progress made in holding the elections. In their briefing, they said that the actual poll preparations were halted in the absence of laws, poll date and commitment from the political parties.
According to the commissioners, the EC has begun voter roll update campaign in all 75 districts and the campaign is expected to complete by the end of January. Other crucial works mainly arranging ballot paper, voter ID cards and deployment of officials are yet to begin.
Commissioners said that arranging 23,000 types of ballot papers for the local elections has appeared to be the most difficult task for them. They have also complained that poll preparations were affected with the government's delay in giving full shape to the election body. Currently, only two commissioners are there in the five-member EC board.
On logistical arrangement, former chief election commissioner Uprety suggested to the Election Commission to decentralize ballot printing process and vote counting.
"Printing ballot papers in Kathmandu and ferrying them to districts may take time and would turn more expensive. It will be easier to arrange elections if ballot paper printing process is decentralized," said Uprety, requesting to ensure foolproof security while printing ballot papers at local level.