Poll panel chief calls for vigilance by election bodies

New Delhi: Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora addresses at the launch of the Electoral Verification Program, in New Delhi on Sept 1, 2019. (Photo: IANS/PIB)

Bengaluru, Sep 3 (IANS) Asserting that eternal vigilance is the price democratic countries pay for liberty, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora on Monday said the world’s election bodies should be vigilant in ensuring free and fair polls.

“Eternal vigilance is price democratic countries pay for liberty, especially in emerging nations where the political will of the people suffers from weak institutions and lack of trained manpower to conduct free and fair elections transparently,” Arora said in his address at the executive session of the Association of World Election Bodies (A-WEB) here.

Noting that as an electoral miscarriage may breed distrust in democratic institutions, he said that multilateral organisations like A-WEB would have come to the fore.

“The constituent units of the A-WEB are the electoral management bodies (EMBs) of different countries, structured to work together and learn from the experiences and best practices of one another,” he said.

India is one of the founding members of the AWEB since it was formed in October 2013 and has been its Vice-Chair since 2017 to promote partnership among EMBs the world over.

“With 115 EMBs from 109 countries as members and 20 international organisations as associate members, A-WEB has become a global organisation to strengthen electoral management in a non-invasive manner,” said Arora.

Recalling the role of the Constitution framers in setting up the Election Commission of India on January 25, 1950, a day before the country became a republic, Arora said the poll panel had conducted 17 parliamentary and 388 state assembly elections since 1951-52.

“The elections over the last 68 years have strengthened the country’s faith in electoral democracy. As a reputed institution, the ECI shares best practices and skills with other EMBs through its international cooperation programme,” he said.

The EC has an agreement on electoral cooperation with 26 EMBs and international organisations worldwide.

Arora also complimented AWEB’s Secretary-General Yong-Hi Kim of South Korea and his colleagues at the secretariat for organizing training programmes and conferences yearly, fostering promoting of exchange and cooperation among the EMBs.

About 120 delegates from 50 countries the world over are participating in the 3-day WEB summit.

Prominent among the participants are A-WEB chairperson and Romania Electoral Authority Adviser Ion Mincu Radulescu and heads of EMBs from Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Fiji, Kenya, Malawi, Palestine, Paraguay, Tunisia and Uzbekistan.

Delegates of EMBs from Cameroon and Ecuador are also attending the event as special invitees.

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