General elections in July next year: ECP

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Incumbent Govt’s tenure ends on June 5
Zahid Chaudhary

Islamabad

The incumbent government will complete its tenure on 5 June next year and general election will take place in July.
Election Act 2017, according to election commission officials, has made the electoral body economically and politically independent.
In a workshop organized by the ECP on Tuesday, officials revealed that to ensure transparency watermark papers will be used. Moreover, independent Returning Officers will also be hired for the polling. Fee structure for nomination papers has also been revised. National Assembly candidates will now have to pay Rs30,000 whereas legislators contesting for Senate and provincial assemblies will have to pay Rs 20,000.
There has also been a limit set for candidate to spend on their election campaign. Upper house candidates will be allowed to spend Rs4 million, candidates contesting for provincial assemblies will be allowed to spend Rs2 million and candidates for Senate will be allowed to spend Rs1.5 million.
Secretary Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) Babar Yaqoob Fateh Muhammad addressing the concluding session of the workshop said that after holding the new census, it is not possible to conduct polls on the old constituencies.
Yaqoob said the ECP is worried about the delimitation of constituencies in light of the new census. He said that the delimitation and work on voters’ lists would be undertaken simultaneously, but added that he feared there will be more room for error if the ECP is given less time for these exercises. Yaqoob said even if by November 10 the government is able to complete the legal formalities with regard to the new constituencies, the ECP will be able to make it work.
The secretary said the Elections Act 2017 has enormously empowered the commission with rules-making, with administrative and financial authority. Babar Yaqoob said under the amended act, election commission by itself will be making rules for electoral process and will publish on its website for suggestions and objections by the public.
He said under the Elections Act, the commission has become more accountable before its strategic partners that include include media, political parties, international donors and civil society. He said for its accountability, the commission is bound to publish nearly thirty such notifications on its website along with presenting annual report to parliament on regular basis.
Answering a question, the secretary said that during conduct of elections the polling staff will be working under the domain of the commission and the Election Commission will have authority to take disciplinary action or punishment in case of misconduct. The Secretary ECP said that autonomy will make the working of Election commission more effective.
Answering another question about the role of judiciary in Election, the secretary said we always respect the supervision and decisions of the judiciary and take guidelines from it. To another question, Babar Yaqoob said the training of polling staff will start from March next year.

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