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FAFEN finds irregularities in NA-249 by-election

The Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) on Saturday released its report on the NA-249 by-election in which it said that 143 violations of election laws were reported during the April 29 by-poll in the Karachi constituency.

“The NA-249 Karachi West-II by-election on April 29 saw a substantial decline in voter turnout, mainly due to the hot weather and Ramzan. Despite a competitive campaign, the poll recorded a turnout of 21.6 percent of registered voters—dropping from 40 percent reported for the constituency during General Elections 2018,” according to a report.

“On election day, FAFEN’s trained citizen observers reported 143 violations, of which 55 related to the presence of party camps in the polling stations’ surroundings,” the report said.

It further said that in 11 instances, the polling staff did not allow voters to cast votes and sent them back. The other 58 instances of violations pertained to procedural irregularities, mainly in voting and counting processes. On average, the observers reported 1.3 violations per polling station.

“The observers found election material in enough quantities at all of the observed polling stations. Except for two incidents of unauthorized individuals going behind the secrecy screens at two polling stations, there were no other incidents that compromised voters’ secrecy. Except for two cases, the observers did not see party workers persuading voters inside the polling stations,” the report noted.

However, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had ensured strict compliance to the COVID-19 standard operating procedures overall, the report added.

Read More: ECP issues stay order on NA-249 by-poll results over Miftah Ismail’s plea

Around 12 political parties fielded their candidates in the NA-249 by-election while 18 candidates contested independently. The winning candidate secured 22 percent (16,156) of the polled votes (73,471).

Abdul Qadir Mandokhel of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) won the April 29 by-election by securing 22 percent of the total polled votes. The party had secured only six percent (7,236) of polled votes during General Elections 2018.

The NA-249 seat had fallen vacant due to the resignation of PTI MNA Muhammad Faisal Vawda, who became a senator in the election on March 3, 2021.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has issued a stay order on NA-249 by-poll results after Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) candidate Miftah Ismail challenged the result.

Other than issuing a stay order, the ECP also set a hearing on the petition of Miftah Ismail for May 04.

Read the complete report here:

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