Sunil Arora
Sunil Arora|File photo

Sunil Arora assumes chairmanship of FEMBoSA

NetIndian News Network

New Delhi, January 25, 2020

Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sunil Arora on Friday assumed chairmanship of The Forum of the Election Management Bodies of South Asia (FEMBoSA) for the year 2020.

The Outgoing Chair of FEMBoSA, K M Nurul Huda, CEC of Bangladesh, handed over the logo of FEMBoSA to Arora at the 10th Annual Meeting of FEMBoSA here on Friday.

In his address, 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 2019.

Accepting the responsibility as chairperson of the Forum, Arora thanked the delegates for the trust and confidence reposed in the Election Commission of India. “The democratic scaffold and superstructure can be enacted and strengthened on the principle that political power is validated by the will of the people. In a democracy, power is won and legitimized only by regular elections, based on the universal, equal, direct and freely expressed suffrage,” he said.

Strong participatory and inclusive democracies are better able to ensure good governance and empowerment of all the citizens. For capacity building, Election Commission of India has established the India International Institute of Democracy and Election Management (IIIDEM) in June 2011, he said.

FEMBoSA was established at the 3rd Conference of Heads of Election Management Bodies (EMBs) of SAARC Countries held in 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.

The 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 by the seven 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.

It was resolved to 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 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, the 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 Hawa Alam Nooristani, Chairwoman, IEC Afghanistan and by 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 Nabil Baffin, President, ISIE of Tunisia and by Arora.

An International Conference was also organised on the theme “Strengthening Institutional Capacity”, attended by 30 delegates. The day-long International Conference included delegates from participating FEMBoSA members as also participants from EMBs of Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Mauritius, Tunisia and three International Organisations, namely, 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, Arora along with the two Election Commissioners Ashok Lavasa and Sushil Chandra and Secretary-General, ECI Umesh Sinha 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 the magazine “My Vote Matters” was also released.

A web portal on Association of World Election Bodies (A-WEB) was 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”.