- ECP clarifies media speculations over Senate elections
- Elections on vacant seats cannot be held before February 10, 2021
ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan has finally made a statement regarding the Senate elections and the controversy surrounding the date for the elections.
ECP said various speculations had been been made in the media over the conduct of the Senate elections in the last few days.
In a brief statement issued Monday afternoon, the ECP said various statements were issued over the Senate election and certain opinions were expressed over the responsibilities of the ECP, which created ambiguity.
Till now, the commission had issued no statement, but now feels there is a need to provide legal and constitutional clarity over the matter, the statement read.
Here are the clarifications ECP made:
- Half of the Senate members will retire on March 11, 2021 after completing their six-year term.
- According to the Constitution, elections cannot be held before the 30-day period on seats that will fall vacant after the expiry of the term of the members of the Senate, the ECP said, quoting Article 224(3) of the Constitution.
- This means elections on vacant Senate seats cannot be held before February 10, 2021.
- The last four to five Senate elections have been held in the first week of March. This time too, the ECP will announce the date for the Senate elections at a suitable time, according to the law and Constitution.
Conducting the Senate elections is the constitutional and legal responsibility of the Election Commission of Pakistan under articles 218 (3) and 224 (3) of the Constitution and Section 107 of the Election Act, 2017.
What is the Senate election controversy?
On December 15, the federal government decided to hold Senate elections in February rather than in March.
The PTI government’s bid to prepone Senate polls was because it wishes to upset the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) plan to delay elections by resigning from the federal and provincial assemblies.
The elections cannot be held more than a month before the outgoing senators’ term ends nor can they be delayed beyond the expiry of such term.
But the schedule for the polls is issued by the ECP every three years. Under the election law, the commission is the sole authority to organize the polls. The process is spread over different phases and takes about a month to conclude.
During the last election in 2018, the ECP issued schedule on February 2 and elections were held on March 3 across four provincial assemblies. A separate schedule was issued for the election of two senators by the National Assembly which spanned over 28 days.