KARACHI: The much-delayed mayoral elections and those of chairman or vice chairman of district councils/district municipal corporations scheduled to be held on June 8 across Sindh have been put off indefinitely because of a high court order that restrained the Election Commission of Pakistan from calculating political parties share in reserved seats till May 26.
The phase-wise local government elections were held last year in Sindh. The first phase was held on Oct 31, 2015 in Sukkur and Larkana divisions.
Then on November 15 the second phase was held in Hyderabad, Mirpurkhas and Shaheed Benazirabad divisions. The final phase of the LG elections was held in Karachi on Dec 5, 2015.
On May 11, indirect elections for around 6,831 reserved seats in Sindh’s union councils/committees were held and the Pakistan Peoples Party got 4,460 seats followed by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement which won 991 such seats.
The ECP, through a notification dated May 4, fixed May 18 for calculation of share of each political party in metropolitan corporations, district municipal corporations, district councils, municipal committees and town committees concerned for seats reserved for women, youths, labourers/farmers and minority representatives. It set May 25 as the date for the oath-taking ceremony of the reserved seats members to complete the electoral college for the elections of mayor/deputy mayor and chairman/vice chairman.
On May 18, after a delay of over five months, the ECP also issued the schedule for the elections of mayor/deputy mayor and chairman/vice chairman of metropolitan corporations, district municipal corporations, district councils, municipal committees and town committees in Sindh and fixed June 8 as the date of polling.
However, while hearing a set of petitions of a group of independently elected members of the Shikarpur district council who assailed the allocation of reserved seats to political parties, a Sindh High Court division bench suspended the ECP notification.
The independently elected members, who approached the SHC, took the plea that only political parties were eligible to nominate candidates for reserved seats and they had been disfranchised in the entire exercise. They said that they could not join a political party — a requirement because only a political party could get a share in reserved seats on the basis of its strength in a local council — and they should either be allocated seats on the basis of their strength or given time to join a party of their choice.
On their pleas, the SHC restrained the ECP from calculating political parties share in reserved seats till May 26 when the court would pronounce its order.
On Friday, pursuant to SHC’s May 17 order, the ECP issued two notifications suspending its “activities” mentioned in its May 4 and May 18 notifications “till disposal of appeal” by the high court.
Even if the high court ruled in favour of the election commission on May 26, the June 8 mayoral elections in Sindh could not be held on time since the process of filing nomination papers was to begin from May 23 and scrutiny of papers was to be completed by May 26.