KATHMANDU, April 17: Concerned over a statement by Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Bimalendra Nidhi regarding election preparations and security arrangements, the Election Commission (EC) on Monday expressed its 'serious dissatisfaction'.
A board meeting of the election body has concluded that the minister's statement was not true. The EC has reiterated its commitment to conducting the local polls on May 14 as announced by the government and said the preparations are at the final stage.
"We are saddened by the home minister's statement. Whatever he stated is not true. The commission has been working round the clock for the local level elections," said EC Spokesperson Surya Prasad Sharma after the meeting.
Issuing a press release, Spokesperson Sharma said the EC has already completed almost all preparations for the elections and the law and order and security situation is favorable. The EC said it has already issued the regulations and directives related to the elections and the printing of voter rolls, voter IDs and ballot papers is being completed within a week. The EC has also finalized the list of 14,054,482 eligible voters for the May 14 poll.
Sharma said the printing of the voter IDs is at the final stage and the election body would complete the printing of ballot papers by Thursday. The EC also said that it has already conducted the orientation and training for chief returning officers and returning officers and established the offices of the chief returning officers in all 75 districts.
"The Election Commission has almost completed all the preparatory work regarding the elections. The offices of the returning officers will be established in every local unit by April 25 and the ballot papers will reach the offices by the last week of April," states the press release.
The commission has also reminded Home Minister Nidhi that security arrangements for the elections are the responsibility of the government. "The EC would like to remind everyone that it is the duty and responsibility of the Government of Nepal to maintain peace and security during the elections and the government has been frequently assuring the election body over the security arrangements," the press release further states.
"The commission is surprised over the statement made by the deputy prime minister and home minister on twitter as it creates confusion among the general public over the EC's activities at a time when the EC is fully committed to holding the local level elections in a single phase," the press release further states.
DPM Nidhi had stated that the Election Commission's preparations and security arrangements were not sufficient for holding local polls on May 14. Posting a tweet at around 3 AM on his official twitter handle, Nidhi had stated that a political settlement through dialogue among the parties was a must for successful elections.
"The EC preparations & security arrangement aren't sufficient; political settlement through dialogue among the parties is must for successful elections," Nidhi had posted on twitter.
After the EC issued the press release expressing concern over his tweet, Nidhi posted his clarifications on Monday afternoon.
"Preparations of the EC and security arrangements have been excellently completed. This isn't just enough for any elections. The participation of political parties is a pre-requisite for any elections - so we need initiations and dialogue," Nidhi wrote later on Monday afternoon.