Here are the some of the key updates in the wake of final round of elections:
Silence Period Underway
In the wake of legislative elections for electing House of Representatives and Provincial Assemblies, The Election Commission (EC) of Nepal announced the silence period during December 4-7, 2017.
Campaigning, poll surveys, airing of any material in favor or against any political party, among other election-related activities have been banned as part of the election code of conduct during the silence period.
However, publishing and distribution of voter education materials, information or any related message, among others by EC are out of restriction.
Borders Sealed for 72 hours
As part of security measures for Nepal general election 2017, the country’s local administration has closed public movement across 22 border points.
The Government of Nepal sealed borders for 72 hours starting from December 05, 2017.
While a large number of people were stranded at the Kakadbhitta border point, DSP Tanka Bhattarai of the Area Police Office, Kakadbhitta, says, “Those carrying Nepali citizenship and identity cards are only allowed to enter Nepal. The border is open for those traveling to India.”
“Besides the closure of our customs office, we’ve also stepped up security ahead of the polls,” says Binod Prakash Singh, Chief District Officer of Parsa.
Bhadrapur in Nepal’s eastern border with Bihar state and a 500-km long Indo-Nepal border connecting Uttar Pradesh are among those closed.
The closed borders will be reopened from the midnight of December 07, 2017.
Special Transportation for Voters
To ease the voting process, political parties have booked 80 percent public vehicles to transport voters from Kathmandu to their home districts, informed the Federation of Nepalese National Transport Entrepreneurs.
The political parties have already made reservations in this regard, informed Dolanath Khanal, FNNTE President.
Condemning the parties’ move, “Taking voters to their home districts with an aim to influence their vote is gross violation of the election code of conduct,” says Navaraj Dhakal, EC Spokesperson.
Rise in Fuel Import Prices
Nepal’s fuel import bill during the October-November of 2017 has gone up 40 percent in the light of general elections thus impacting the election campaigning activities involving vehicular movement.
According to Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC), the fuel import bill touched Rs 7.44 billion and Rs 8.30 billion in August and September, respectively, which increased to Rs 10.17 billion by October and further to Rs 13.18 billion in November.
The import bills of petrol, cooking gas, diesel and aviation fuel have gone up during the period.
While diesel import has increased from 100,447 kiloliters during August-September period to 141,054 kiloliters by mid October-November period, petrol imports saw a 20 percent rise in the last two months and stood at 42,000 kiloliters.
Human Rights Alerts
In the wake of recent blasts that targeted few political party members and poll contestants, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) urged the government to tighten poll security.
In this regard, NHRC has also deployed its special team to take stock of the victims affected in recent blasts.
Meanwhile, the renowned international human rights body Amnesty International (AI) also urged the Nepali Government to ensure safety and security of public and human rights.
“AI Nepal notes with concern the recent attacks targeting political leaders and campaigners with explosive devices that have resulted in numerous injuries and one death in Dang,” AI Nepal said in a statement.
Nirajan Thapaliya, Director of Amnesty International Nepal, said, “There should be an independent and effective investigation into incidents of violence, and the suspected perpetrators should be held accountable through fair trials.”
Special Observation Teams, Security High on Agenda
EC has allowed a total of 45,000 members to monitor the observe and monitor the final phase of election.
This includes 52 domestic observing institutions and four international observer groups.
Besides, the Nepal Election Observation Committee (NEOC) is deploying more than 2,000 observers to monitor the elections across 45 districts.
“Considering the ongoing explosions, we are focusing more on election security. We have a team of experts on security. We are not only paying attention to the election day but also to the days before and after the elections,” says Kapil Shrestha, Vice-Chairperson, NEOC.
Shrestha further informed that a special focus will also be laid on other issues such as booth captures and multiple voting that impact free and fair elections.
Election Observation Committee Nepal (EOCN) and Democracy Resource Centre (DRC) are among other government bodies that are tracking security situation, political environment, electoral process and voter awareness, among other aspects.