KATHMANDU, March 23: The European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) for Nepal’s House of Representatives and Provincial Assembly elections has said that it prepared the report on fully abided by its terms of reference and the Memorandum of Understanding signed with the authorities of Nepal.
The EU EOM’s statement comes after the Election Commission (EC) Thursday said it ‘totally rejects’ the final poll report prepared the EU EOM.
The EU EOM on Tuesday submitted its final report on November 26 and December 7 election which stated that although the Election Commission (EC) performed its duties impartially, its’ work lacked transparency.
EU EOM’s ACCUSATION
The EU EOM on its report made a number of accusations, which are as stated: “There was, for example, no mechanism for regular consultations with election stakeholders, and the EC failed to publish critical information on polling center turnout and invalid votes. There were also procedural weaknesses, particularly in relation to the reconciliation of ballots. Voter education was also inadequate, in some areas non-existent. The EC had extensive powers to punish violations of the Election Code of Conduct, including by fines and disqualification, yet it dealt with complaints in a largely informal manner, requesting that those in violation stop the behavior complained of. This lack of enforcement undermined the integrity of the Code. Allegations that both cash and in-kind gifts were given to voters circulated widely, but not a single prosecution for vote-buying was initiated.”
The report also opposed the quota system for Khas-Arya in the elections, saying that the system is arguably in contravention of international standards on equality, as affirmative action measures are foreseen only as a means to promote equality.
The report also made 29 suggestions for consideration which included reviewing of quota system, enhancing transparency, launching extensive voter education in advance of elections, reviewing first-past-the-post constituency boundaries, relaxing voters registration transfer requirements, enforcing law and order to stop vote buying and producing less restrictive code of conduct.
EC’S ‘TOTAL REJECTION’
Following the report, the EC had issued a press release stating that it ‘totally rejects’ the EU EOM’s report while stating that the election body remains always positive towards acknowledging positive feedback for reforming the electoral system.
The EC also accused the EU EOM of preparing the report violating the 12 points of Election Observation Code of Conduct; and termed the report “misleading”, “factless” and “in contravention of the international poll observation code of conduct”.
EU EOM’s RESPONSE
Responding to EC’s statement, the EU EOM said its report is based on international and regional commitments for democratic elections and the suggested recommendations were widely consulted and discussed.
“As it is standard practice for international election observation missions, the report offers recommendations which include the review of administrative practices, legislation and constitutions. In so doing, the EU EOM fully abided by its terms of reference and the Memorandum of Understanding signed with the authorities of Nepal. The assessment and recommendations in the EU EOM’s final report are based on international and regional commitments for democratic elections to which Nepal is a signatory. The suggested recommendations were widely consulted and discussed at a roundtable on 28 December 2017,” EU EOM stated.
Meanwhile, the Foreign Affairs Ministry (MoFA) in Nepal also issued a press release stating that the recommendations and comments made by the EU EOM are a direct challenge to the provisions of the Constitution of Nepal which was promulgated, in line with the inclusive policy reflective of Nepali social structure, by the sovereign decision of Nepali people.
The MoFA further stated, “It is unfortunate that the report has made unwarranted comments about political issues that have already been settled. The Government of Nepal calls upon all the concerned to refrain from making such uncalled-for comments.”