September 28, 2020

Electoral Process In The Newly Merged Tribal Areas Of KPK

Pakistan’s NGO, named Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN), wrote an assessment report on the elections innewly merged tribal areas of KPK. The NGO carried out a detailed assessment of the electoral process and noted all the positives and negatives of the election process. All the data was gathered during the time period of 2 months, from May 8 to July 17, 2019.

FAFEN observed the electoral process in 16 Provincial Assembly (PA) Constituencies by their on ground officers known as Long-Term Officers or (LTOs). The LTOs were posted in 50 randomly picked locations in each PA and they interviewed the voters, returning officers (ROs), district election commissioners (DECs) and the district returning officers (DROs).

Overall FAFEN interviewed 3,132 voters, 203 contesting candidates and observed 111 political gatherings. The data was collected from May 8 to July 17, 2019.

From among the 203 interviewed contestants, 177 of them were satisfied that their voters could vote freely. However, 29 candidates said that they had some reservations as their voters are not able to vote freely. Their main reservation was that the names of the eligible voters was not on the provided voters list. Furthermore, 181 contestants expressed their satisfaction over the performance of the DROs and 194 candidates were satisfied with the performance of the ROs as well.

FAFEN also interviewed different election officials including the DROs, ROs and DEOs. The ECP appointed 16 ROs, 1 for each constituency and the remaining1 official was appointed for the 4 reserved seats of the merged tribal areas. The election officers were picked from the cadre of ECP officials. LOTs interviewed 16 ROs and 7 DROs. All 7 DROs expressed their satisfaction regarding the security, budget, complaint cells and the working environment. However, the ROs expressed their concerns about not receiving their copies of electoral lists, lack of computers, internet devices and non-installation of result management system (RMS). “The RMS system was not installed in 13 ROs offices till May 13”, stated the report. Although the DECs were mainly satisfied but complained about not receiving their voters registration data on time.

FAFEN observed 111 political gatherings during May-July, 2019 where 104 of these gatherings were solely focused on rallying the support of voters. The gatherings were organized by different contesting parties, namely the ANP, JI, JUI-F, PAI-L, PML-N, PPPP, PTI and IND. The report said that high number of gatherings prove that the environment was peaceful and competitive.

FAFEN interviewed 3,132 citizens, 2,945 men and 187 women, in total. Mostly, the voters said that their participation was only limited to the ballot box. Almost half of the voters said that they were either visited by the contestant themselves or by their workers, during the election campaign. The report stated that the turnout rate for women voters was very low. The report further stated that women were not able to cast their votes due to many reasons, including the socio-cultural norms, distance and accessibility to polling stations, low literacy rate and less electoral and civic education. Another point that the report highlighted was that from among the 3,132 interviewed voters 37 of them said that they were being compelled to support a particular political party.

FAFEN claimed in their report that they had observed 212 cases being reported where the size of the campaign advertisement posters was not in accordance with the ECP rules. FAFEN further observed 185 incidents where the candidates used banned campaign materials, such as wall chalking, billboards, etc.

FAFEN said that it used the local newspapers to observe any incidents of violence during the elections period. The acts of violence were mainly related to the fighting between Pakistan military and the militants. Where 8 soldiers and 5 civilians were martyred in either shootings or IED blasts during May-July, 2019.

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