‘Controversies in Sindh LG polls to affect General elections’

KARACHI: The Free and Fair Election Network (Fafen) said on Thursday that controversies regarding the quality of the electoral process in the recently held Sindh local government polls “do not augur well”, especially when political parties are preparing for general elections. In an observation report, Fafen noted that many controversies in the LG polls stemmed from weaknesses in the legislative framework that governed elections, adding that these needed to be rectified through negotiations among all political actors.

“Unless elections lead to political stability, the process of democratisation will continue to weaken and so will the public trust in democracy and its ability to improve the social and economic well-being of the people,” the report said.

At the same time, the Election Commission of Pakistan needs to open up to political actors and address their legitimate concerns, the report added.
The report further noted that an “impressive number” of voters turned up in Badin, Jamshoro, Tando Muhammad Khan, Tando Allah Yar, Thatta, and Malir district while the turnout in Karachi Central, Karachi East, Karachi West, Karachi South, Korangi, Hyderabad, and Kemari districts was “relatively low”.

It also noted that the voting process remained orderly, unlike the first phase of the LG polls. However, it added that legal and procedural irregularities concerning campaigning inside and around polling stations, and the ballot issuance process were observed during the first phase persisted during the second as well.
“Fafen observers noted omissions and inadequacies in the polling station result forms (Form 11) recurring during the second phase. They reported cases where presiding officers did not duly fill out the result forms leaving empty sections made for recording polling stations’ names, registered voters, gender-disaggregated number of votes polled, and signatures of polling officials.”

The report recommended ensuring stricter enforcement of the code of conduct regarding campaigning and canvassing on election day, setting up adequately spaced polling booths, compliance with the voter identification and ballot issuance processes, availability of female staff at female polling booths, and provision of basic facilities at polling stations before the general elections to improve polling day management. –Agencies