Monday, January 24, 2011

South Asian election commissioners exchanging best practices

Chief election commissioners of South Asian countries are meeting here to exchange ideas and best practices to promote electoral democracies in the region.

The two-conference, jointly organized by Malaysian Commonwealth Studies Centre and Foundation for Advance Management of Elections (FAME) began at Pragati Resorts, about 40 km from Hyderabad.

Except Bhutan, where the municipal elections are on, poll officials of all other South Asian countries are attending the conference, the first event of its kind.

The chief election commissioners of India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka are discussing the problems they face in conducting elections and the ways to promote electoral democracies, which include voter education, voter registration and the conduct of free and fair elections.

The conference is being held at the initiative of former chief election commissioners J.M. Lyngdoh, N. Gopalaswami and T.S


Anil Seal, Director, Malaysian Commonwealth Studies Centre, told reporters that the deliberations were being kept private to the participants as their governments may not like election commissioners expressing their views in public.

'We are discussing how to promote best practices in electoral democracy. It includes voter education, how to achieve full and immaculate register of all those who vote, how to count votes accurately and how to have elections which are not distorted by muscle power, money power and all the many factors which distort the voice of the people,' Seal explained.

He said the South Asian countries face common challenges, albeit in different circumstances.

'South Asia has more voters by far than any other single continent of the world. There more than a billion voters. Democracies range from 250,000 voters in 190 islands of Maldives to India with its awesome figures of 710 million voters.

'In the post-conflict situation, the countries face new challenges. Nepal has moved from bullet to ballot while there was three-and-a-half decade long war in Afghanistan. There are difficulties in other neighboring countries,' Seal added.

The theme of the conference will be reflected in the events the Election Commission of India will be organising as the concluding events of its Diamond Jubliee in Delhi.

Election Commissioner V.S. Sampath told reporters that the participants would also share whatever problems they were facing in the conduct of the elections.

Chief Election Commissioner of India S.Y. Quraishi will attend the conference Saturday. The participants include Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, chairman, National Electoral Commission of Ghana and executive secretary, Association of African Election Authorities and P. Manogran, Member Malaysian Election Commission.


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