K-P polls on hold amid oath-taking delay

In Local
April 03, 2024



PESHAWAR:

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) put the brakes on the Senate elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) on Tuesday, citing delays in the administration of oaths for reserved seats.

K-P Election Commissioner Shamshad Khan arrived at the assembly premises and requested a list of sworn-in MPAs from the assembly staff. Simultaneously, the opposition lodged a petition with the ECP, urging the postponement of Senate elections in the province.

While the rest of the country witnessed the Senate ballot brawl across the National, Punjab, and Sindh assemblies, the situation in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa hung in limbo.

Despite the stage being set and the election staff prepared, the K-P Senate polls failed to kick off at the promised hour of 9 am.

As the clock ticked closer to the appointed hour, contenders from all sides trickled into the assembly hall. However, while polling proceeded for 30 vacant Senate seats from the National, Punjab, and Sindh assemblies, uncertainty loomed over the situation in the province.

Subsequently, the ECP issued a notification announcing the postponement of polls, citing its earlier order from March and the upheld decision of the Peshawar High Court (PHC).

The notification highlighted the failure to administer oaths, as required under Article 218(3) of the Constitution, resulting in an incomplete electoral college.

Stating that the Peshawar High Court (PHC) had upheld its ruling, it noted that there were no arrangements made for the oath. Additionally, it stated that the Returning Officer (RO) for the Senate polls informed the electoral watchdog that the assembly speaker, Babar Saleem Swati, had yet to arrange the oath.

“The commission is of the considered view that the standards of honesty, justness, and fairness of election… cannot be fulfilled due to non-administration of oath to elected members,” the ECP stated.

The electoral body delayed the elections, citing the electoral college’s “incompleteness,” until the swearing-in of the elected MPAs on reserved seats in accordance with Article 218(3) of the Constitution, along with sections 4(1), 8(c), and 128 of the Elections Act, 2017.

Last week, the ECP had indicated a potential postponement of Senate elections in K-P if delays persisted in oath-taking. Speaker Babar Saleem Swati had filed a review petition against the PHC order directing him to administer oaths to 25 opposition MPAs elected to reserved seats.

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