December 31, 2007 – Islamabad: Against the backdrop of reports that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is considering delay in general elections scheduled for January 8, 2008, the Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) has called upon the Chief Election Commissioner to take all political parties in confidence before announcing the new date.
FAFEN says that the situation that ensued after the assassination of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto last week warrants special measures by the ECP to inspire confidence among all political parties and contesting candidates in the credibility of the elections. FAFEN recommends that the Chief Election Commissioner should organize an All Parties Conference urgently under his auspices to hear out the concerns of political parties and take remedial actions. This conference can also be tasked to finalize the election date through a political consensus.
Steps should be taken to persuade the political parties that have boycotted the elections to be part of this gathering. A national consensus over elections and participation by all political parties is necessary for long-term political stability in the country and will help strengthen democracy.
The ECP also needs to ensure that state authorities take adequate measures to improve the security situation which has deteriorated to such an extent in some parts of the country that electioneering has become difficult. Unless political parties and contesting candidates are free to campaign, elections cannot be credible.
The Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) is a coalition of thirty leading Pakistani civil society organizations. It was established in 2006 to observe the election process, educate voters, and advocate for electoral and democratic reform.
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