Kathmandu: As the country is gearing up for the local elections slated for May 13, experts have suggested a number of measures for the Election Commission as well as the political parties to ensure compliance with the election code of conduct and to make the campaign financing transparent. They were speaking at the discussion organized by Niti Foundation, a Nepali non-profit organization engaged in strengthening Nepal’s policy process through collaborative research, innovative policy adoption, and enhanced policy choice, on Wednesday in the capital.
Speaking at the interaction program entitled ‘Legal Provisions on Regulation and Monitoring of Political Parties and Role of Election Commission’ experts said that while there are a number of laws and policies in place to regulate and monitor the political parties and their activities during the elections, weak implementation of those laws and policies has led to rising cases of anomalies and violations of election code of conduct as well as the electoral laws.
Political parties, civil society and the election commission should work and stand together to ensure success to change the situation, said constitutional expert Dr Bipin Adhikari. He also identified challenges and constraints facing the Election Commission. “It is challenging for the Election Commission to ensure compliance of laws. There are problems related to campaign financing as well,” said Adhikari.
At the same time, Adhikari also suggested measures to ensure effective implementation of the code of conduct, election laws and Political Parties Act. According to him, the candidates should be made to self-declare that they have not been involved in any criminal offense, to submit their sealed property details, to make them open separate bank accounts for the purpose of spending during the election, and to make them self-declare that they have followed the Election Act and regulation. “Besides, their source of income should be monitored and the donation process should be made transparent,” he said. He suggested that the ceiling of donation amount should be fixed by the Election Commission and those who donate by exceeding the limits should be booked according to the law by the Commission. “Besides, action should be taken against those whose campaign financing exceeds the limit set by the Election Commission.”
Likewise, Kapil Shrestha, chairperson of the National Election Observation Committee, said that the Election Commission has become like an appendage of political parties in power adding that the poll body should not be politicized. He suggested that the Election Commission should not hesitate to, under pressure or by itself, to exercise its powers and rights to make the political parties comply with the code of conduct. “The Election Commission should strictly enforce the code of conduct and ensure its compliance,” he said.