ISLAMABAD: President Mamnoon Hussain is set to announce the date for the upcoming general elections next week.
In all likelihood it seems that July 27 will be the day the nation decides who forms the next government, sources said.
A senior official of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) when contacted referred to Section 57(1) of the Elections Act, 2017 which details that the president is entrusted to announce the election date after consulting the ECP.
He said the commission would move a summary to the president proposing an election date within the next few days and confirmed that the president would make an announcement sometime next week.
He said that according to the law, the ECP was required to announce the schedule for the polls within seven days after the announcement of the election date.
He said that under the provisional plan, the ECP would announce the schedule either on May 28 or 29, but did not say what date the commission was going to propose to the president for the general elections.
Another official of the ECP, however, told Dawn that making a reasonable projection for the election date was not overly complicated. He said it was likely that the elections would be held on July 27, considering the completion of the government’s term.
He also referred to clause 224 of the Constitution according to which elections for the national and provincial assemblies are to be held within 60 days following the day the term of the assemblies expires.
The five-year constitutional term of the national and Punjab assemblies will end on May 31 while the Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan assemblies will complete their terms on May 28. “A single date for the polls is to be announced for the elections. They will be held before July 28,” the ECP official said.
Section 57 (2) of the Elections Act, 2017 says the Commission will announce election programme within seven days after announcement of the election date by the president, stipulating a time frame for fulfilling various prerequisites including filing of nomination papers, filing of appeals against the acceptance or rejection of nomination papers, disposal of appeals, and publication of an official list.
The official said the ECP laid the groundwork for the polls and its activities were going on as per schedule. He said the delimitation of constituencies had already taken place and the data entry of electoral rolls was in the final phase. He said that the district returning officers, returning officers and presiding officers had already been appointed and the training of polling staff had also been started.
He said the process of administering the oath to the polling staff was under way. He said under the Elections Act, 2017 all officials deployed during the elections — including the returning and presiding officers, as well as the security staff — were required to take an oath before the polls — swearing their complete impartiality and absolute compliance to the election code of conduct.
Under the new powers conferred on the ECP by the Elections Act 2017, the election staff would be under direct control of the commission, allowing it to penalise any violators of the code of conduct. These codes include efficiency and disciplinary rules.