ISLAMABAD: In a late night development, President Mamnoon Hussain issued two ordinances; one dealing with the conduct of local government elections in cantonment boards, and the other dealing with the voting rights of MNAs from the tribal areas in Thursday’s Senate election.
The first order, entitled the Cantonment (amendment) Ordinance 2015, empowers the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to conduct LG polls in the 43 cantonment areas throughout the country. Through the seven-page ordinance, the ECP has been authorised to issue an election schedule after receiving such a request from the federal government.
The ECP has also been empowered to receive nomination papers, carry out scrutiny, allot symbols as well as appoint returning officers and other staff for the election process. The ECP will also prepare the electoral rolls for the LG elections to be held under this ordinance.
ECP empowered to hold LG polls in cantonment areas
The ordinance was repeatedly referred to by the government’s law officers before the Supreme Court as it took up the matter of delay in LG polls. The apex court chided the ECP and the government for the inordinate delay in holding LG polls, to which Attorney General Salman Aslam Butt had replied on Tuesday that the ordinance was ready and would be promulgated within 24 hours of the prorogation of both houses of parliament. Ordinances cannot be issued by the Presidency as long as parliament is in session.
The second order was issued on the basis of a summary moved by the Safron ministry and deals with the voting rights of Fata senators in the Senate elections. The ordinance withdraws the Statutory Regulatory Order of July 7, 1975, as well as a 2002 executive order — issued by former president Gen Pervez Musharraf — which gave each tribal senator as many votes as the number of vacant seats. Following the withdrawal of the two earlier orders, each Fata MNA will now only have one vote.
Both ordinances will come into effect on March 5, 2015 and the latter will be applicable to the Senate elections being held on Thursday (today).