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Electoral playing field wasn’t level, say EU observers

SAMAA | - Posted: Jul 27, 2018 | Last Updated: 2 years ago
Posted: Jul 27, 2018 | Last Updated: 2 years ago
Electoral playing field wasn’t level, say EU observers

People stand in a line as they wait for a polling station to open during general election in Rawalpindi on July 25. Reuters Photo

A European Union monitoring team said on Friday that the campaign for general election this week featured a “lack of equality” that meant it was not a level playing field for all parties.

“Although there were several legal provisions aimed at ensuring a level playing field, we have concluded that there was a lack of equality and (of) opportunity,” Michael Gahler, chief observer of the EU Election Observation Mission, told a news conference in its preliminary assessment of the poll.

Michael Gahler MEP (Germany), said: “Despite positive changes to the legal framework with the new Elections Act, and a stronger and more transparent Election Commission, we consider that the electoral process of 2018 was negatively affected by the political environment.”

The EU mission concluded that positive changes to the legal framework were overshadowed by restrictions on freedom of expression and an unequal opportunity to campaign.

“Media outlets and journalists suffered from restrictions which, the mission stated, have resulted in self-censorship,” the statement said.

On 25 July, over 120 EU observers observed the opening, voting, counting and tabulation processes at 582 polling stations and tabulation centres in 113 constituencies in Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakthunkhwa and Islamabad.

Pakistan cricket legend-turned-politician Imran Khan has declared victory with a large lead in the nearly complete vote count.

The party of jailed ex-prime minister Nawaz Sharif has said elements of the powerful establishment suppressed its campaign and made accusations of rigging during the counting process after Wednesday’s vote.

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