November 19, 2017 06:00 AM NPT
Says polls will be conducted on scheduled dates
KATHMANDU, Nov 19: Expressing serious concerns over what it called 'a growing security threat', the Election Commission (EC) has urged the government to ensure foolproof security for candidates and voters to peacefully and successfully hold the upcoming parliamentary and provincial assembly elections. With bomb attacks targeting poll candidates continuing, the election body has concluded that the government has failed to make proper security arrangements for the polls.
"Since we are not mandated to deploy the security agencies or prepare a poll security plan, it's up to the government. The recent attacks show that the security arrangement is not up to the peoples' expectation," said Chief Election Commissioner Ayodhee Prasad Yadav.
Asked whether he had discussed the issue with Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, who also oversees the Ministry of Home Affairs, the agency responsible for coordinating the poll security, CEC Yadav said the PM was not available in Kathmandu. "He is not in Kathmandu. I could not get in touch with him," said Yadav.
The home ministry has been left without a dedicated minister after the Maoist Center leader Janardan Sharma was stripped of the home ministry portfolio. Ministers from the Maoist party including Sharma were relieved from their respective responsibilities after their party forged an electoral alliance with CPN-UML.
PM Deuba is busy in his poll trails in the far-western region of the country. "The government must act tough to ensure security for candidates and voters. This is not a tolerable issue," said CEC Yadav. EC Commissioner Sudheer Kumar Kumar Shah, who coordinates with security agencies on behalf of the election body is said to be out of office for the last three days.
Commissioner Shah is traveling to the mid- and far-western regions of the country in course of inspecting the security arrangement.
CEC Yadav, however, ruled out the possibility of deferring or postponing the elections even if the targeted attacks continue. "We are feeling a sense of security threats but the elections will take place as scheduled. We are all prepared for this," he said.
The EC is conducting the first round of elections in 32 districts of the country on November 26 while the second round of polls is scheduled for December 7 in the rest of the districts.