Election Commissions (ECs) of SAARC nations today set up a joint forum to promote mutual cooperation for enhancing their capabilities in conducting free and fair polls.
India will chair the first such forum set up at the 3rd conference of heads of election management bodies of SAARC countries, which concluded here today.
The delegates of ECs of India, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Bangladesh, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka also signed and adopted a Charter to promote mutual contact and learning.
The Charter established a 'Forum of the Heads of Election Management Bodies
(EMBs) of the SAARC Countries' after two days of discussions and unanimously adopted a resolution to foster cooperation and share electoral experiences through this permanent forum.
After adopting the Charter, the ECs of SAARC nations also decided that Bhutan will hold the first meeting of the forum in 2013. Bangladesh had hosted the first Conference of SAARC EMBs in May 2010 and Pakistan the second one.
Those who signed the Charter included Independent Election Commissioner of Afghanistan Fazel Ahmad
Manawi, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) of Bangladesh Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmad, CEC of Bhutan Dasho Kunzang
Wangdi, CEC of Nepal Neel Kantha Uprety, Commissioner of Maldives EC Ibrahim
Waheed, Member, Election Commission of Pakistan Justice (Retd) Muhammad Roshan
Essani, and Commissioner of Elections of Sri Lanka Mahinda Deshapriya.
India's CEC S Y Quraishi signed the Charter on behalf of ECI, while Election Commissioners V S Sampath and H S Brahma addressed the conference.
The three-day conference saw sharing of experience among the commissions on empowerment of election management bodies; electronic voting machines, inclusive elections, voters' education, collaboration with media and civil society, controlling money power in polls and technology integration.
The South Asian commissions also had a series of discussions for bilateral exchange of technical expertise. Participants complimented the election management practices and methods of ECI and expressed the desire to avail the facilities created at India International Institute of Democracy and Election Management
Representatives from UNDP, SAARC Secretariat and former CEC J Lyngdoh also attended the conference as special invitees.
The Council of the Forum will be its supreme authority and comprise the Heads of Election Management Bodies of SAARC Countries or their representatives and will meet
at least once a year in one of the member countries selected.
The Council shall approve the programmes of the forum and decide the subjects for discussion in any
conference/meeting , besides framing rules for conduct of its business
The forum may also establish and maintain relations with other regional and international electoral organisations. The Council, in agreement with the organisations concerned, shall determine the nature and forms of such relations.
The forum may be dissolved by a resolution of the Council and upon dissolution, the Council shall further decide concerning the disposal of the assets and payment of liabilities of the forum.
India to Chair First Joint Forum of SAARC ECs
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