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Nepal local polls: Code of Conduct bars ministers, public portfolio holders from campaigning with government expenses

ANI | Updated: Apr 08, 2022 23:22 IST

Kathmandu [Nepal], April 8 (ANI): In wake of upcoming local elections in Nepal, the Election Commission of the Himalayan Nation has endorsed a code of conduct that would go into effect past Friday midnight barring ministers and public portfolio holders from campaigning out of government expenses.
The poll body which is responsible for conducting and monitoring elections held a press conference on Friday to announce that the code of conduct will be effective immediately.
According to the now effective code of conduct, no individual will be allowed to communicate in the media space or post on social media platforms against contesting parties or candidates. EC also clarified that for the duration, contesting parties or candidates can campaign and advertise only through their official websites.
"This was first enlisted in the year 2048 (BS) and has continued since then in every election code of conduct, a sitting minister or person holding a public post cannot campaign using the government or public resources, this has continued for decades. We talk about equal play-in-field, allowing sitting minister or political persona to use government facilities to campaign as she/he fulfils various roles then disparity would come in between the competitors standing in the fray. We have worked on managing and balancing it," Chief Election Commissioner, Dinesh Kumar Thapaliya said in a press briefing.
The electoral body has adopted the code of conduct after all the concerned stakeholders expressed commitment in writing to abide by the code of conduct. Opposition CPN-UML has objected over 6 points of the code which the electoral body has claimed to be brought into attention.
The code of conduct implemented to hold the upcoming local level elections in a free, fair and transparent manner is applicable to government, constitutional bodies, semi-governmental organizations, political parties, candidates, public servants, media, observers, non-governmental organizations, schools, teachers, and voters.
With the implementation of the code of conduct, no budget can be allotted for carrying out any activities including inauguration and survey. It will also restrict transfers of government employees and appointments, among others.
"The Local Election Law 2017 has clearly stated that whosoever candidate, she/he should not have been undertaking any of the contracts of local levels at the time of filing or have been using any asset either moveable or non-moveable, it should be declared beforehand of the filing of candidacy. Hence it has been made clear that any the person vying for the posts who have been engaged in any of the works funded by local authorities whether it is a contract or lease agreement or sealing any sort of agreement with local beneficiary committees, the person needs to produce clearance certificate before filing the candidacy. If it is not followed then the filing would be in danger," the Chief of the electoral body said.

The Electoral body had issued the Code of Conduct earlier on March 17 for the May slated single phased local elections. The 78-page election code of conduct requires political parties to make payments for expenses incurred during the election campaigns through the banking system.
The code prohibits the use of the public property during campaigning further prohibiting people from creating fake accounts on social networking sites in order to influence polls. It prohibits people from making hateful speeches or misleading remarks against anybody on social networking sites.
It stipulates that political parties should designate an officer responsible for a campaign expenditure. It stipulates that parties receiving more than NRs 25,000 in donation from any person should receive it through the banking system.
Political parties should submit details of expenditure within the stipulated deadline. Only the main campaigner can use helicopters for the purpose of the election campaign. Helicopter expenses should be within the limit of expenditure sanctioned by the Election Commission.
Vehicles with foreign number plates should not be used during election campaigns. The code of conduct prohibits parties and candidates from disseminating any information for or against any party or candidate through online media, social networking sites, or any other means of communication.
It stipulates that local representatives will have to resign from their posts in order to contest local polls. It also prohibits voters from propagating baseless information for or against any candidate on Viber, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Messenger, YouTube or any other mode of communication.
It prohibits parties' cadres and supporters from using logos, stickers, clothes, shirts, T-shirts, jackets, scarves, caps, badges masks, or lockets that have parties' flags while campaigning for the parties' candidates.
It stipulates that more than one party should not hold rallies and or meetings at the same venue at the same time. People are prohibited from placing parties' flags on individual and public property without the consent of the owner.
The code prohibits teachers of those schools and educational institutions that receive partial or full funding from soliciting votes for any political party or candidate. It orders parties not to announce any assistance package, in cash or kind, for any organization or club. (ANI)