Chief election commissioner refuses to meet president for talks on elections date

The chief election commissioner (CEC) has decided against meeting the president, in response to a letter Dr Arif Alvi wrote to Sikandar Sultan Raja inviting him for consultation on a date for elections.

Sources said this was decided in an important meeting of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to deliberate on the president’s letter written to the chief election commissioner (CEC).

The chief election commissioner has written his own letter to the president in response to an invitation for a meeting on the elections date.

The letter states that under the Elections (Amendment) Act 2017, only the election commission is responsible for giving a date for polls.

Under an amendment in the Elections Act, certain changes were made to its Section 57. Previously, the president was mandated to be consulted before announcing the elections date. But now that responsibility solely rests with the election commission.

The CEC further says in the letter that if the assembly was dissolved under Article 58(2)(b), then the right to announce elections would rest with the president.

Raja wrote that the constitutional references mentioned in the president’s letter were irrelevant.

Presidency seeks Law Ministry’s advice
Later in the day, the Presidency wrote to the Law Ministry seeking advice on the CEC’s letter.

The letter was addressed to the secretary of the law ministry. It apprised the ministry that the ECP says it is responsible for announcing a date for elections.

It has sought the Law Ministry’s advice if the election commission’s stance is correct.

Earlier, the election commission’s legal team briefed the meeting on legal and constitutional matters, according to sources, who added that consultation on election schedule is not necessary with the president under the Elections Act.

The legal team advised against consultations with the president, the sources said, adding that the chief election commissioner will not hold a meeting with the president for consultations on the elections.

The meeting was held at the ECP to decide when to meet the president in response to his letter.

On the other hand, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and JUI-F delegations are also expected to reach the election commission today for consultations on the elections.

The meeting was attended by the ECP secretary, members and the legal team.

Also Read: President writes to chief election commissioner, invites for meeting on elections date

Sources said that the meeting discussed the president’s letter to the CEC. The legal team gave a briefing on the elections in the light of the Constitution and law.

Moreover, the election commission is also starting consultations with political parties from today. The PTI and JUI-F delegations have been invited by the ECP for a discussion on the elections today.

The commission has called the PTI at 2pm and the JUI-F at 3pm.

The ECP had written letters to the political parties on Wednesday.

President Dr Arif Avi had written a letter to the chief election commissioner on Wednesday, and called him for a meeting to consult on a date for the general elections.

The president wrote that the assembly was dissolved on August 9 on the advice of the prime minister.

The letter states that Article 48 of the Constitution makes it mandatory to hold elections within 90 days after the dissolution of an assembly.

Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja should meet today or tomorrow so that a suitable date for the elections can be fixed.

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