Local govt representatives barred from participating in election campaigns

LAHORE: Following opposition parties’ complaints about abuse of powers, Punjab’s Local Government and Community Development (LGCD) department has barred all local government representatives to participate in political activities and electioneering for any political party.

An LGCD spokesperson said that the department has issued a notification for implementing the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) Code of Conduct for 2018 general elections. The department has barred all mayors, deputy mayors, chairmen, vice-chairmen and other elected public representatives of metropolitan corporation, district councils, municipal corporations and municipal committees to participate or cooperate in electioneering of any political party or candidate across Punjab.

The caretaker government has decided not to allow any local government representative to participate in electioneering for any party.

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He added that strict action will be taken against all violators of the ECP code.

The LGCD spokesperson highlighted that the ECP had forwarded complaints about 823 polling stations across Punjab, out of which the department has provided all requisite facilities at 819 polling stations. It is pointed out that 188 polling stations have no boundary wall so the department had made arrangement for placement of tents around these polling stations established in the premises of various government departments.

He further highlighted that the commission has forwarded 68 complaints about different violations of code by government officers and officials. The LGCD department has also resolved these complaints by taking necessary action.

Opposition parties have already demanded the ECP to suspend or cease the powers of local governments because the former ruling party Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), which has majority in local governments across the province, is using local government officials for influencing the election process.

Contesting candidates of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Pakistan Muslim League (PML-Q) and other opposition parties have complained about local government representatives using their position and state resources in electioneering for the PML-N in gross violation of the ECP code.

PTI’s candidate for NA-130 Shafqat Mahmood said his party has demanded the commission to suspend powers of all local government till the polling day (July 25).

Ejaz Chaudhry, another PTI candidate from  NA-130, highlighted that local government representatives are indulging in a door-to-door campaign of former ruling party candidates. They are using their position and public resources to benefit one party. In all areas, town administrations are engaged in displaying the PML-N candidates’ banners and removing opposition parties’ banners from the area.

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PML-Q senior central leader Chaudhry Parvez Elahi believes free, fair and transparent election cannot be held without suspending local bodies as the PML-N has already started ‘pre-poll rigging’ in Punjab through its local government representatives who, he claimed, are busy in organising PML-N’s corner meetings and public gatherings.

“Caretaker governments are claiming about holding of fair and transparent elections but if the local bodies are not suspended till polling day then the claim of caretaker governments will not be based on reality. The ECP and caretaker governments should take immediate notice of this situation so that their claim about transparency of election seems to be based on reality,” he maintained.

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    Original news : https://tribune.com.pk/story/1747355/1-local-govt-representatives-barred-participating-election-campaigns/