Chief Election Commissioner of India, Shri Sunil Arora today assumed Chairmanship of The Forum of the Election Management Bodies (EMBs) of South Asia (FEMBoSA) for the year 2020. The Outgoing Chair of FEMBoSA, Mr. K.M.Nurul Huda, CEC of Bangladesh handed over the Logo of FEMBoSA to the Incoming Chair, Mr. Sunil Arora at the 10th Annual Meeting of FEMBoSA held in New Delhi today.
In his address, Mr. Nurul Huda stated that in keeping with the objectives of the Forum, members have been sharing experiences and skills and taking steps to enhance cooperation with other EMBs. EMB Bangladesh presented the Stewardship Report on the activities of FEMBoSA members during the last year.
Accepting the responsibility as Chairperson of the Forum, Sh Arora thanked the delegates for the trust and confidence reposed in the Election Commission of India. Sh. Arora said “The democratic scaffold and superstructure can be enacted and strengthened on the principle that the political power is validated by the will of the people. In democracy, power is won and legitimized only by regular elections, based on the universal, equal, direct and freely expressed suffrage”. Strong participatory and inclusive democracies are better able to ensure good governance and empowerment of all the citizens, he said. Sh. Arora added that for Capacity Building, Election Commission of India has established the India International Institute of Democracy and Election Management (IIIDEM) in June 2011.
FEMBoSA was established at the 3rd Conference of Heads of Election Management Bodies (EMBs) of SAARC Countries held at New Delhi in May, 2012. With its eight members, FEMBoSA represents a very large part of the democratic world and is an active regional association of EMBs. Annual FEMBoSA meeting is held by rotation among the members. The last (9th) annual meeting of FEMBoSA was held in Dhaka in September 2018.
A New Delhi Resolution was unanimously adopted at the 10th FEMBoSA Annual Meeting today by the seven FEMBoSA members present at the meeting. The Members resolved to : Implement the Work Plan for 2020 as approved by the member EMBs in the 10th Meeting of FEMBoSA; Cooperate in capacity building of the member countries; Host election visitor programmes in the respective countries as feasible; Provide technical assistance to the members as requested and as feasible; Actively share best practices and knowledge in ICT tools and modules being used by the member EMBs and to develop standards for sustainable use of ICT in elections; Take steps to curb use of money power and muscle power; Enhance and ease participation of Persons with Disabilities and Senior Citizens in the election process; Maintain the permanent content management based web portal of FEMBoSA to share information among the EMBs through the www.fembosa.org web portal; Design and implement regional research projects.
The Work Plan for 2020 on ‘Use of Technology in Elections’ calls for Members to undertake projects and initiatives on various aspects of use of technology in elections and present a report on their experiences and challenges faced in this regard at the next FEMBoSA Meeting.
On the sidelines of the Conference, ECI renewed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for cooperation in the field of election management with the Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan. The MOU was signed by H.E. Mrs. Hawa Alam Nooristani, Chairwoman, IEC Afghanistan and by Shri Sunil Arora, CEC on behalf of ECI. An MoU for cooperation in the field of election management was also signed with the Independent High Authority for Elections (ISIE) of Tunisia. The MOU was signed by H.E. Mr. Nabil Baffoun, President, ISIE of Tunisia and by Shri Arora.
An International Conference was also organised today on the theme “Strengthening Institutional Capacity”, where nearly 30 delegates gathered to attend the International Conference. The day long International Conference included delegates from participating FEMBoSA members as also participants from EMBs of Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kyrgystan, Mauritius, Tunisia and three International Organisations viz. the A-WEB, International Foundation of Electoral Systems and International IDEA. Presentations were made by delegates from ECs of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Kyrgyz Republic, Maldives, Mauritius, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, IFES and Intl. IDEA. The representatives shared their experiences, best practices and initiatives. Experts also analysed barriers, policy interventions, strategies, programmes, good practices and technological innovation for strengthening Institutional capacity of EMBs.
On this occasion, CEC Sh Sunil Arora along with the two Election Commissioners of India Sh. Ashok Lavasa and Sh. Sushil Chandra and Secretary General, ECI Sh Umesh Sinha also launched the 10th issue of ECI’s magazine – ‘VOICE International’ which carries articles on the theme of “Innovative Methods of Voter Registration”. The 4th Issue of magazine “My Vote Matters” was also released on the occasion. A webportal on Association of World Election Bodies (A-WEB) was also unveiled. IIIDEM will host A-WEB Centre for documentation, research and training for sharing the best practices and capacity building of officials of A-WEB members. The Commission also released “ICT 2020; a compendium of 20 Apps for Election”.
Election Commission of India has endeavoured to play a pioneering role in organizing free, fair and credible elections in a participative manner in the largest democracy in the world. It enjoys impeccable reputation in imparting knowledge and sharing skills and best practices with other EMBs through its robust international cooperation programme. In September 2019, ECI took over as Chair of the 115 member Association of World Election Bodies for 2019-21 term. Earlier today, ECI assumed Chairmanship of FEMBoSA for 2020. ECI remains committed to the ideals and objectives of these Associations and looks forward to further strengthen its cooperation and interaction with fellow EMBs to spread the march of democracy globally.