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India to chair first SAARC ECs joint forum

New Delhi: Election Commissions of SAARC nations today set up a joint forum to promote mutual cooperation for enhancing their capabilities in conducting free and fair polls. India will chair the first such forum set up at the 3rd conference of heads of election management bodies of SAARC countries, which concluded here today.

The delegates of Election Commissions of India, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Bangladesh, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka also signed and adopted a Charter to promote mutual contact and learning. The Charter established a `Forum of the Heads of Election Management Bodies (EMBs) of the SAARC Countries` after two days of discussions and unanimously adopted a resolution to foster cooperation and share electoral experiences through this permanent forum. After adopting the Charter, the ECs of SAARC nations also decided that Bhutan will hold the first meeting of the forum in 2013.

Bangladesh had hosted the first Conference of SAARC EMBs in May 2010 and Pakistan the second one. Those who signed the Charter included Independent Election Commissioner of Afghanistan Fazel Ahmad Manawi, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) of Bangladesh Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmad, CEC of Bhutan Dasho Kunzang Wangdi, CEC of Nepal Neel Kantha Uprety, Commissioner of Maldives EC Ibrahim Waheed, Member, Election Commission of Pakistan Justice (Retd) Muhammad Roshan Essani, and Commissioner of Elections of Sri Lanka Mahinda Deshapriya. India`s CEC S Y Quraishi signed the Charter on behalf of ECI, while Election Commissioners V S Sampath and H S Brahma addressed the conference.

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