KARACHI, January 27, 2008 – The Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN), a coalition of 40 independent, non-partisan civil society organizations formed in 2006, is appointing about 20,000 Polling Station Observers (PSOs) to observe the election process in every district of Pakistan on Election Day, February18, 2008.
FAFEN will observe all stages of polling on Election Day including the voting process and counting. FAFEN will also observe the process of consolidation of polling station results by Returning Officers in 264 constituencies. All FAFEN personnel abide by the FAFEN Code of Ethics, which can be found at www.fafen.org, as well as the FAFEN Observer Code of Conduct, which requires, among other things, that FAFEN observers “monitor the election environment and election day without any partisan bias.”
FAFEN’s Long Term Observers (LTOs) in 264 constituencies have been monitoring election process since October 2007 and sending weekly reports to the FAFEN Secretariat and Data Center in Islamabad. FAFEN has issued eight “Election Updates” in addition to its many other public statements about the electoral environment and preparations during 2007. The goal of all of FAFENs efforts is to help improve the quality of elections in Pakistan through analysis based on empirical information gathered from around the country.
On the basis of its findings, FAFEN has already made specific recommendations to the ECP on the issues such as interference of District Nazims and local government officials in the election process; postings and transfers of government officials after the announcement of the election schedule; interference of police and intelligence agencies in some constituencies, political posturing by some members of the caretaker setup, etc.
Moreover, FAFEN has also demanded of the ECP to:
- Set in place a uniform and efficient complaint handling mechanism
2. Ensure election expense limits set by the law
3. Finalize polling schemes well ahead of the Election Day and share it with all contesting candidates
4. Ensure that all polling stations are located in neutral and accessible places for all voters to vote without any fear
5. Take measures against debarring of women from voting
6. Appoint Election Day officials who are neutral and non-partisan and enjoy confidence of all contesting candidates in a constituency
7. Put in place uniform guidelines for declaration of polling stations sensitive across the country and make public those guidelines
8. Ensure appropriate security measures for Election Day to keep law and order as well as minimize chances of Election Day rigging inside the polling stations
9. Enforce Code of Conduct for Political Parties and Contesting Candidates and take action against violators irrespective of their party
10. Timely issuance of accreditation passes to media personnel and domestic observers for Election Day observation
FAFEN’s work has been acknowledged by the Election Commission of Pakistan. In addition, FAFEN’s election-related information has been acknowledged and extensively used by national and international media.
FAFEN has also been conducting an innovative Voters’ Education campaign, focusing on general, women and youth voters and has so far reached out to 2,500 union councils out of about 6,200 in the country.
About FAFEN: 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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