4-10 October 2013 #676

The final countdown

Himal, 29 October

Interview with Chief Election Commissioner Nilkantha Upreti

Nepali Times: Are you certain elections will take place on 19 November?

Nilkantha Upreti: Well there are security issues and other concerns. But days leading up to elections are always uncertain, the day of the poll itself turns out fine. We are committed to holding elections in 10,017 centres across the country on19 November. Our job is to make sure everything is in place, the government is responsible for providing resources to make it possible, and by now the parties should have realised they must reach all their constituencies.

What about the role of election monitors?

It would be ideal if we could create an environment where election monitors aren’t necessary, because we can then say that democracy in Nepal has been truly institutionalised. India has election observers who unlike monitors are not required to write reports. In the last elections there were complaints that some of the monitors were affiliated or close to certain parties and that the parties used them for political gain. Only 32 of 148 monitors submitted reports last time. We don’t want a repeat of that.

How much is the elections going to cost?

Polls are going to be really expensive and will cost around Rs 24 billion. The EC will spend a third of that and the rest will be used for security. Monitors will run on our expenses. We don’t know how much the parties will spend – almost 1,200 candidates from the last elections still haven’t submitted financial reports of their campaigns.

How will this election be different than 2008?

This is the first elections in Nepal where voters will be required to bring IDs. This will help us cut down on voter fraud that was rampant during 2008. If by chance some people do not get their IDs on time, they should bring other forms of government documentation. And except for a few locations, people will not have to travel more than five km to and from election centres.

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