Necessary preparations for the local elections are being made in full swing across the country. The government, the Election Commission (EC), security bodies and other machineries have geared up for holding the May 13 local polls in a free, fair and fearless environment. As the date for the polls comes closer, the political parties, their candidates and independent contestants have intensified poll campaigns. With the support of the Nepali Army (NA), ballot papers have already been transported to all the districts. The NA has initiated the process of taking the ballots to all the 753 local levels. The EC has intensified efforts to implement the poll code of conduct in letter and spirit. The election body has alerted different candidates, journalists and others against the defilement of the poll code and other election-related laws. Such a proactive role on the part of the EC is expected to help ensure a free poll. Periodic free elections are the foundation of democracy as they enable people to elect their representatives.
In view of possible untoward incidents during the upcoming elections, the government has mobilised all the security bodies — the NA, Nepal Police, Armed Police Force and National Investigation Department. Any unpleasant happenings in elections could disrupt the democratic exercise. People can realise their voting right in a free and fearless manner only when there is sound security management in place. When security measures are enforced effectively at polling centres, it may ensure the openness, freedom, and integrity of voting. A strong security system is required for safeguarding ballot papers and ballot boxes, and preventing voters and polling officers from intimidation and threats. It can ensure security of poll observers, party workers and candidates. The government is planning to deploy more security personnel at those polling centres which are deemed sensitive from a security perspective.
As per a news report published in this daily on Monday, the NA has kept a band with helicopters standby at three cities outside the Kathmandu Valley round the clock for days prior to the local elections. One team each has been stationed in Itahari, Pokhara and Surkhet to cope with the likely security threat. The NA is also going to have its separate team for carrying out daily air patrolling in the Kathmandu Valley. It has been assigned to transport election materials, including ballot papers, and protect them. The NA is currently looking after the security of all the 74 prisons across the nation.
What is equally noteworthy is that the NA personnel will be in a position to reach every polling centre within 30 minutes in case of urgency. They will travel on foot or by vehicle or helicopter in accordance with the situation. Being an important part of the unified security plan in existence for the upcoming local polls, the NA is fully carrying out its responsibilities. In addition, it has set up temporary camps in several places targeting the elections. With its robust plan to cover all polling stations nationwide, different army teams are being mobilised. Each of the teams will have bomb disposal manpower as well. The NA has trained its human resources for potential unwanted incidents. Since there is better coordination among all the security bodies, they are sure to ensure a reliable poll security. All the political parties and common people have also their roles to play in holding the polls in a free and fair manner.