Election Commissions of SAARC Countries Establish Forum with ECI as The First Chair: Forum Adopts a Charter for Mutual Cooperation.
Heads of Election Commissions of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have signed and adopted in New Delhi a charter to promote mutual contact and learning for enhancing their capabilities towards conducting free and fair elections. The Charter established a ‘Forum of the Heads of Election Management Bodies (EMBs) of the SAARC Countries’ after two days of discussions among the Heads and their delegates. The Election Bodies unanimously adopted a resolution to foster cooperation and share electoral experiences through a permanent Forum.
The Charter was adopted at the 3rd Conference of Heads of EMBs of SAARC countries, chaired by Chief Election Commissioner of India Dr S Y Quraishi. ECI, the hosts of the Conference become the first Chair of the Forum. Bhutan shall hold the first meeting after creation of the Forum in 2013. Bangladesh hosted the maiden Conference of SAARC EMBs in May 2010 and the second Conference was held atIslamabad last year.
Those who signed the Charter for their countries areMr Fazel Ahmad Manawi, Chairman, Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan, Mr Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmad, Chief Election Commissioner of Bangladesh, Mr DashoKunzang Wangdi, Chief Election Commissioner of Bhutan,Mr Neel Kantha Uprety, Chief Election Commissioner of Nepal, Mr Ibrahim Waheed, Commissioner, Maldives, MrJustice Muhammad Roshan Essani, Member, Election Commission of Pakistan and Mr Mahinda Deshapriya, Commissioner of Elections of Sri Lanka. Dr S Y Quraishisigned the Charter on behalf of ECI. Election Commissioners Shri V S Sampath and Shri H S Brahma addressed theConference.
During their visit, all Heads of Commissions and delegates joined the CEC and Election Commissioners in laying the Foundation Stone of the India International Institute of Democracy and Election Management IIIDEM inDwarka, New Delhi. Shri Tejendra Khanna, Lt. Governor ofDelhi was the Chief Guest at the ceremony.
The 3-day Conference saw experience sharing between 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 Elections and Technology integration. The South Asian Commissions also had a series of bi-lateral discussions for exchange of technical expertise. The participants complimented the Election management practices and methods of ECI and expressed the desire to avail the facilities created at IIIDEM.
Representatives from UNDP, SAARC Secretariat andMr J Lyngdoh, former CEC also attended the Conference as special invitees.
Election Commission of India works in close collaboration with the Election Management Bodies of South Asian Countries. In the recent weeks, officials from the Election Commissions of Afghanistan, Maldives and Bhutanreceived training at the India International Institute of Democracy and Election Management, IIIDEM of the Commission.