Election Commission wary of missing out on poll window

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Mar 22, 2016-

The Election Commission had recommended elections for local bodies as interim arrangement by Spring 2016 to meet the constitutional obligation of completing federal parliamentary elections by January 2018. But with the government failing to clear legal hurdles, holding local elections before the rainy season looks difficult.

In view of the tight election cycles before January 2018, the EC had forwarded a draft law to amend the Local Bodies (Election Procedure) Act right after the promulgation of the new constitution some five months ago. But the draft law is currently gathering dust at the Law Ministry. 

“Given the preparations we have made so far, holding local polls by spring this year seems impossible,” said Election Secretary Sharada Prasad Trital. “We have to now wait for autumn window.”

Nepal’s climatic condition offers only two windows--spring and autumn--for organising elections at once throughout the country and that the country has to wait until November. If that window is missed, the election could be held only in the spring of 2017. 

That leaves just three windows to hold elections for three tiers of the government before the country runs into “another constitutional crisis”, EC officials warn. “The government must take this seriously. Otherwise, it will be difficult to complete the whole election cycle within a short span of time,” said Election Commissioner Ila Sharma. “Election Commission requires at least six months’ notice to prepare for nation-wide polls.”

Given the limited windows of opportunity, election officials are worried that government’s indifference towards the election body would make it difficult to complete election cycle before terms of the incumbent Parliament expires. 

If for some reason, parties fail to find consensus on holding elections for one or the other tier of the government in any of three remaining windows, this would mean a major crisis. “Pro-constitution forces themselves are divided and are more focused on power instead of implementing the constitution,” said former chief election commissioner Bhojraj Pokharel, adding, “So, there are not credible basis of completing required election cycle within the set timeframe.”

Published: 22-03-2016 08:37

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