Borders to be sealed for 72 hours before Local level elections

The government of Nepal has decided to close all international border points from May 10 midnight to May 13 midnight Friday 30 Baishakh, 2079.

The government’s decision comes following a recommendation by the Election Commission urging the government to close the border points from May 10 midnight to May 13 midnight.

Home Ministry Spokesperson Phanindra Mani Pokharel informed that a directive has been issued to the respective district administration offices of the districts bordering India and China to implement the commission’s recommendations.

“Districts sharing borders with neighbouring countries have been directed to seal the border points and halt all movements, except for emergency services, for 72 hours ahead of the May 13 local elections,” said Pokharel.

Pokharel further informed the ministry has also directed local administrations and security agencies to strictly implement the silent hour as per the commission’s election code of conduct.

According to Pokharel, Nepal Police and Armed Police Force have also been directed to implement the Standard for Vehicular Movement Management-2022. As per the standard, vehicles should acquire a pass issued by the commission or the district administration office to operate during the election day.

Likewise, all domestic flight services, except rescue and relief flights and flights taking off under government directives, will be halted during the election day.

In a statement on Sunday, Airlines Operators Association of Nepal informed that it has decided to halt all flights during election day as per the standard issued by the election commission.

Borders to be sealed

Nepal shares close to 1,880 kilometres of border with India and around 1,414 kilometres with China. Out of the total 77 districts, as many as 42 either share a border with India, China or both. All the border points will be sealed from Tuesday midnight to Friday, allowing only emergency services and vehicles with government permission to operate. Pokharel said a circular to this effect has been issued to all bordering districts.

Is the permit available?

While there will be restrictions in vehicular movement on voting day, the government issues permits in selective cases. The commission and the respective district administration offices issue such passes to those who have fulfilled the criteria. The candidates and their representatives can get the permit from the district administration offices on the recommendation of the chief returning officer. For humanitarian purposes, vehicles can be operated in coordination with the district administration offices.

The offices will have to coordinate the travel to and from international airports based on the passport, visas and the air tickets. The security officials deployed by the district administration offices will coordinate in such cases.

Chief returning officer or returning officer can permit vehicles to run to and from polling centres for people with disability. Ambulance, fire engine, water tankers, mortuary vans and vehicles belonging to hospitals, electricity and telecom offices and diplomatic missions don’t need permission to operate.

Who gets the permit?

The Election Commission has selected 21 sectors from the government and private offices and diplomatic missions, among others, that are eligible to get the permit to run vehicles on the election day. The Election Commission, district election offices and respective district administration offices can issue the permits. The commission will grant the permits to the vehicles from the constitutional commissions and their subordinate offices, diplomatic missions, the invitees of the Election Commission, representatives of the UN agencies, observers deployed by the commission, its partner organizations and international non-government organizations.

Permit quotas to media houses

The Election Commission has fixed the quotas of the permits for media houses. The district administration offices will issue the permits to media houses and journalists on the recommendation of the Department of Information and Broadcasting. For broadsheet dailies, a maximum of five permits will be issued for administrative staff and 20 for staff deployed for reporting purposes. For other dailies, a maximum of five permits will be issued for the administrative staff and 10 for reporters; the weeklies will get three permits and the televisions 10. Similarly, one permit for administrative purpose and seven for reporting will be issued to radio/FM stations, two permits for the administrative and five for reporting will be issued for the onlines. A maximum of seven permits will be issued for photojournalists for each media house and five permits will be issued for news agencies.Domestic flights to be closed

All domestic flights will remain closed on election day, the Airlines Operators Association said in a statement Sunday. Exceptions will be made for flights used for evacuation, support and government use.