EC for use of technology to deal with issues in SAARC region

NEW DELHI, Apr 30: As heads of poll management bodies of SAARC countries got together to evolve ways to tackle common problems, the Election Commission of India today said innovative methods and strategies are needed to deal with new challenges in the electoral field in the region.

In his inaugural address at the 3rd Conference of Heads of Election Management bodies of SAARC countries, Chief Election Commissioner S Y Quraishi stressed on the use of modern technology to deal with problems in the conduct of free and fair elections.

Pointing out the common challenges before election managers in South Asia, who deal with over a billion electorate which is 60 to 70 percent of the whole democratic world, he said the Election Commissions of SAARC nations have to find innovative methods to deal with the new problems in the electoral field.

Quraishi said, bitter political competition, the use of money power and apathy of citizens in the electoral process call for innovative methods and strategies, for which he suggested use of modern technology.

Election Commissioners V S Sampath and H S Brahma emphasised on continuous exchange of experience and expertise among the SAARC electoral bodies.

The three-day conference brings together the Chief Election Commissioners and senior election officials of the region on a common platform to share best practices in election administration and management.

Bangladesh hosted the first conference in May 2010 and the second conference was held at Islamabad last year.

Some of the issues to be discussed include empowerment of election management bodies, inclusive elections, voters education, controlling money power in elections and technology for cost-effective elections.

The discussions will also focus on the final shape of the Forum of SAARC Election Management Bodies, which was agreed at the last Conference held in Islamabad.

Participants in the conference include Fazel Ahmad Manawi, Chairman, Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan, Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmad, Chief Election Commissioner of Bangladesh, Dasho Kunzang Wangdi, Chief Election Commissioner of Bhutan and Neel Kantha Upreti, Chief Election Commissioner of Nepal.

Ibrahim Waheed, Commissioner, Maldives, Justice Muhammad Roshan Essani, Member, Election Commission of Pakistan and Mahinda Deshapriya, Commissioner of Elections of Sri Lanka are also taking part in the conference.

Representatives from UNDP, SAARC Secretariat and former Chief Election Commissioner J Lyngdoh, are attending the Conference as special invitees. (PTI)