The panchayat elections, along with the municipal elections of Itanagar and Pasighat, are due in the state since May 2018 Credit: Representational image

Itanagar: The Arunachal Pradesh State Election Commission (SEC) on Friday decided to temporarily put on hold the ensuing municipal and panchayat elections in the state, citing the coronavirus pandemic.

This was informed by state election commissioner Hage Kojeen, who said that the SEC is of the firm view that continuing with the scheduled election process would be detrimental and harmful for the public health at large due to the possible spread of COVID-19.

The commissioner said that conduct of elections would entail a large number of public gatherings at various locations in the state in the form of public meetings, campaigns and rallies throughout the election period and the same would be against the government notification, dated March 16, which bans such gatherings and congregations till April 5.

Kojeen said that several political parties as well as the state’s health department have already requested the commission to consider postponing the elections to the municipal, rural polls till situation improves.

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“The SEC has decided to put on hold the process of elections temporarily till normalcy is restored in respect of the coronavirus pandemic facilitating public gatherings for conduct of elections. The commission will make further assessment in consultation with the stakeholders, especially the health department for taking a considered decision on resumption of the election process,” Kojeen said.

The panchayat election, along with the municipal elections of Itanagar and Pasighat, are due in the state since May, 2018.

The last panchayat raj term in the state had expired in May 31, 2018.

Besides directing the shutdown of all schools and educational institutions, cinema halls, night clubs and weekly bazaars till April 5, the government on Monday has also appealed the people to avoid any gathering, congregations or conferences may it be social, cultural, political or religious.

The government has also stopped issuing inner line permits till further notice as part of its measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

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