Only voters legitimize elections: Michael Gahler

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LAHORE, Jul 22 (APP):Chief Observer, European Union Election Observation Mission (EUEOM) Pakistan 2018 Michael Gahler has said that legitimacy to an election process comes from the voters, urging the voters to come out in large numbers on July 25 and cast their votes.
Talking to APP about his observations on elections in Pakistan here on Sunday, he said that political parties should present the voters and promise they would deliver on it.
Michael Gahler, member EU parliament from Germany, is the chief observer in the EUEOM which comprises about 100 members who have been invited to monitor elections on July 25. He was also the head of EUEOM in 2013.
To a query, he said elections day was people’s day, urging people to trun up in large numbers to strengthen democracy in the country.
He expected a lot of enthusiasm as a result of a vibrant election campaign by the political parties.
To a question, the EU representative said the mission had collaborated with seven television channels, three radio stations and other media outlets to encourage the voters to come out inlarge numbers to cast their vote to the choicest candidates, besides assist in monitoring elections.
About the preparations by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), he said the legal frameworks were well in place while the staff provisions, supplies, and technical assistance were far better than the 2013 general elections, stressing that election day was the best litmus test of all claims.
About the transparency, he said the ECP had put in place an effective system, adding that every party had the right to take a photo of result document at a polling station and prepare its own parallel result. He urged the political parties to lodge complaints on the spot and not after the result had been announced.
About the law and order situation, EU Chief Gahler said that law and order situation and overall security scenario was better than the 2013 general elections, adding that Mastung terror attack was an indication that terrorist outfits were targeting the final phase of the election campaign.
Gahler endorsed deployment of army on the polling day to ensure security of voters and ward off any terrorist attack.
“The EU mission would monitor elections in all provinces except Baluchistan in the wake of the recent terror attacks in the Quetta and KPK”, he responded.
About the freedom of media and expression during the elections, he said there could be some complaints and the mission would consider those in its final report, adding that anything that curtails information and access was against the spirit of democracy. He said the EU backed freedom of media and speech.
About allegations of rigging against government institutions, Gahler said EUEOM had asked the complainants to approach the right forum for relief as it could not make any judgments but witness and observe.
About changing party loyalty after finalization of nomination
papers, he said it was an anomaly to him and he was unaware of the motivation, adding that it was to be decided by the voters on what
grounds that happened. He said it was an uncommon practice in the
European democracies.
About rigging in 2013 elections, he said only one case of rigging
was reported in a polling station by the EUEOM, adding that the
situation was quite different in Karachi today.