According to EC Spokesman Bir Bahadur Rai, a meeting of the constitutional body held at its central office in the capital on Wednesday endorsed an earlier draft election code with some amendments.
The election code of conduct, which is divided into eight chapters, will be applicable to candidates, political parties, their cadres, the government and its various bodies, non-government organizations (NGOs) and media organizations.
The Code of Conduct has allowed political parties to charter helicopters and airplanes in 11 remote and mountainous districts for their election campaign. The 11 districts are Solukhumbu, Manang, Mustang, Dolpa, Humla, Jumla, Mugu, Kalikot, Bajhang, Bajura and Jajarkot.
“Some districts lack roads, while sometimes voters, too, need air services in these districts,” Election Commissioner Ayodhee Prasad Yadav, who also heads the EC’s Code of Conduct Committee, said. Political parties will now have to depend on road networks for their campaign in the remaining 64 districts.
The code, however, says a candidate’s total expenditure for the campaign, including the hiring of helicopters and planes, should not exceed Rs 1 million. According to the code, a candidate under the First-Past-the-Post electoral system is allowed to spend a maximum of Rs 1 million, while a candidate contesting under the proportional electoral system can spend Rs 75,000 only.
The EC has banned wall-chalking, the use of banners, face painting and loudspeakers during the poll campaign. Parties are allowed to design only monochrome posters, not exceeding 180 square inches in size, while it has barred them from resorting to ‘insulting language, character assassination and intimidation’ during mass meetings.
As the private sector demanded an end to ‘forced donations’ by making public the source of parties’ income, all major political parties were against the provision of disclosing the sources of the funds.
As per the code of conduct, election campaigns should not incite gender-related violence and no one should do or encourage others to do anything that is considered offensive as per the existing election-related laws. Election publicity must be gender-friendly.
Also, political parties and candidates must inform local authorities about their election rallies and gatherings 24 hours before hand and parties cannot change the venues for such gatherings without permission. Two or more political parties or leaders cannot hold rallies or gatherings at the same place at the same time.
The code of conduct has prohibited the organizing of rallies or gatherings that obstruct vehicular movement. Political parties and candidates will not be allowed to organize torch rallies or rallies with weapons.
The code of conduct has allowed publicity campaigning only from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Political parties and candidates cannot engage in any election campaigning from 48 hours before balloting and after the ballot.
The election code of conduct also prohibits the government from effecting promotions other than the regular ones. Similarly, the government cannot announce new programs other than those mentioned in the government budget.
The EC can fine anyone found in breach of the code of conduct Rs 100,000, and it can annul a candidacy if it is satisfied that there cannot be free and fair election because of violation of the code by anyone. The EC can bar a candidate from contesting elections for six years if the candidate is found spending beyond the limits set by the election code of conduct.
As per the code of conduct, local authorities should ban the sale of alcoholic drinks after 8 p.m. from the date of filling of candidacies till three days before polling date. Sale of such drinks will be banned altogether from three days before polling till the results are announced.
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