General elections to take place in last week of January: ECP

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) announced on Thursday that general elections in the country will take place in the last week of January 2024.

The electoral body said a preliminary list of delimitations, which are being carried out in line with the new census, will be published on September 27.

The ECP said it reviewed the progress on the delimitation process today and decided that the final list of constituencies will be published on November 30 after hearing the objections and suggestions related to the delimitations.

Subsequently, the polls will be held in the last week of January 2024 following the completion of the 54-day election schedule, the ECP statement added.

The ECP’s statement finally ended the uncertainty surrounding the elections as the previous Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM)-led government’s move to approve a new census mandated the electoral body to carry out new delimitation before holding polls, sparking fears of an undue delay in polls.

Following the premature dissolution of national and provincial assemblies earlier in August this year, the ECP was required to hold elections within 90-day stipulated time period, meaning the polls should take place no later than November 6.

However, the ECP said it was constitutionally bound to draw fresh boundaries ahead of the elections, hence holding elections within a 90-day time period was not possible.

Key political parties including Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), and others also urged the Election Commission to hold polls at the earliest to end prevailing uncertainty in the country.

The United States and the United Kingdom have also called for free, fair and timely elections in the country.

Last month, US Ambassador Donald Blome also met CEC Sikander Sultan Raja to reaffirm his country’s support for “free and fair elections”, reiterating that choosing Pakistan’s future leaders is for the Pakistani people to decide.

The development came days after President Arif Alvi suggested a cut-off date for the holding of polls in a letter to CEC Raja.

The president had said that in the light of Article 48(5) of the Constitution, he has the authority and mandate “to appoint a date not later than 90 days from the date of dissolution [of assemblies], for holding of a general election to the assembly.”

[…] in terms of Article 48(5) the general election to the National Assembly should be held by the eighty-ninth day of the date of dissolution of the National Assembly, i.e. Monday 6th Day of November 2023,” the letter stated.

However, the ECP had maintained that the president was no longer empowered to fix the date for polls after amendments in election laws.

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