Minister for Foreign Affairs Narayan Prakash Saud speaking after inauguration of the Sixth Asian Electoral Stakeholder Forum/Photo: RSS
KATHMANDU: The Sixth Asian Electoral Stakeholder Forum (AESF-VI) kicked off today in Kathmandu, hosting a two-day gathering.
Themed ‘Building Sustainable Democracies: Addressing Electoral Challenges and Opportunities,’ the event has drawn election management bodies, civil society organizations, and various stakeholders from across Asia, fostering engagement and collaboration.
Minister for Foreign Affairs Narayan Prakash Saud inaugurated the Forum, co-hosted by the Election Commission and the Asian Network for Free Election.
In his address, Minister Saud emphasized the Election Commission’s constitutional independence and its successful execution of three-level elections over two terms.
He expressed the government’s willingness to reform existing electoral laws based on submissions, ensuring free, fair, and impartial elections. Saud highlighted the need to leverage electoral experiences to fortify democracy and align electoral systems with contemporary demands.
Addressing the inaugural session, Dr. Shahabuddin Yaqoob Quraishi, former Chief Election Commissioner from India, stressed that noble electoral practices are pivotal for democratic strength.
He advocated for proportional electoral systems and state-provided facilities for citizens within democracies. Quraishi highlighted India’s mixed electoral system and the practice of a parliamentary hearing before the appointment of Election Commissioners as models for other nations.
Chief Election Commissioner Dinesh Kumar Thapaliya expressed optimism that the Forum would provide essential guidelines to bolster democratic norms, values, and commitments. “Collective commitments are crucial to enhance citizen participation in elections and yield result-oriented democracies,” he asserted.
Election Commissioner Dr. Janaki Kumari Tuladhar expressed hope that the event would mark a milestone for sustainable democracy.
With over 200 attendees, the Forum anticipates 21 paper presentations covering seven topics by experts from Nepal and beyond. The event aims to conclude with the issuance of a Kathmandu Declaration.