Saturday, March 03, 2007

Bill on political parties tabled; SAC discusses election bills
The government has tabled the bill on political parties at the interim parliament on Friday.
The bill, which aims to strengthen democratisation of political parties, was tabled by Minister of State for Labour and Transport Management Ramesh Lekhak on behalf of Home Minister Krishna Sitaula.
The bill, which was registered at the parliament secretariat a few days ago, was tabled on Friday. It proposes to make it illegal for political parties to announce bandh. The bill proposes that parties avoid organising any programs like bandh that can affect country's economy or traffic blockades that affect people's lives. Likewise, the bill proposes against wall-painting, pasting and graffiti-writing by parties on private properties without owners' consent. They are also asked not to vandalise public or private properties when organising their programs. All these activities have been deemed illegal.
Another significant aspect of the bill is that it also attempts to introduce the concept of state-financing of parties. The bill proposes that the state provide grants to the parties based on the votes they garner. Parties that garner at least one percent of votes in the national elections will be granted with proportional amount of resources. It has also made provisions regarding the donations or financing of the parties by national or international government, organisations or individuals.
The bill also prohibits the parties from enlisting corrupt persons, black-listed defaulters and those declared bankrupt by the court, as their members. It asks parties to make their executive committees inclusive and properly keep and regularly publicise the asset lists of their office-bearers.
As per the provision in the interim constitution, the bill makes it mandatory for parties to submit signatures of 10,000 people if they want to be registered at the Election Commission (EC). This provision, however, will not be applicable to the parties that are represented in the current parliament.
The parties will have to audit their financial transactions and present the report to the EC within six months of the completion of a fiscal year. The EC can impose fines on the parties who do not abide by this provision. The bill will come into force after the parliament approves and enacts it.
Meanwhile, the parliamentary State Affairs Committee (SAC) discussed various election-related bills on Friday. They initiated discussions on Bill on Election Commission; Election (Crime and Punishment) Bill, and Bill on Constituent Assembly Court.
Various members at the SAC meeting put forth 73 amendment proposals on those bills. At the meeting, the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Dr. Bhoj Raj Pokharel appealed to ensure the autonomy of the Election Commission.

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