Cabinet approves roadmap to hold 3 elections in 18 months

  • Experts say polls difficult without getting political and legal basis right
  • constitution implementation
- ANIL GIRI, Kathmandu

Jun 17, 2016-

The Cabinet on Thursday approved a roadmap for the implementation of the constitution, aiming to hold three elections—local, state assembly and federal parliament—in the next 18 months. The government has already announced that local body elections will be held by the end of the year. 

In the proposed roadmap, the government plans to hold the local body elections by December 2016, state assembly elections in April-May 2017 and elections to the federal parliament by December 2017.

But election experts say holding local body elections by the end of this year itself is fraught with challenges. 

A former top Election Commission official said the government has two-month window to get the political and legal basis right for holding polls by December.

“Without getting the political and legal basis right, elections cannot be held,” said former chief election commissioner Bhoj Raj Pokhrel, who oversaw the 2008 Constituent Assembly elections, outlining three preconditions for the polls to take place—expanding the ownership of the current constitution among Madhesi parties to hold polls in the Tarai; demarcation of provincial boundaries; and restructuring of local bodies alongside delineation of electoral constituencies. “After that, the Election Commission requires three-four months for technical preparations to conduct polls,” said Pokhrel. 

According to Pokhrel, the government has until mid-August to address “a set of complex challenges” if it wants to hold elections by December.

But in the absence of political consensus, prospects of getting the ground ready for elections appear difficult, at least for the proposed local body polls by December.

While Madhesi parties have opposed any step towards constitution implementation before their demands are addressed, the main opposition Nepali Congress, and the CPN (Maoist Centre), a key alley in the incumbent government, have also voiced their concerns, saying local elections will be difficult unless local body restructuring is completed. 

The Local Body Restructuring Commission formed in February has until March 2017 to submit its report. Sources said the government is preparing to introduce some legal framework before September in order to hold the elections to the local bodies. The new constitution has envisioned three-tire elections of the local bodies.

The roadmap approved the Cabinet on Thursday will be tabled in Parliament, said Minister for Information and Communication Sher Dhan Rai, also the spokesperson for the government.

As per the roadmap, the government has proposed formation of a commission to redraw the federal boundary by mid-August. The commission will submit its report by mid-November.

To hold the elections of the state assembly and federal parliament, the government aims to complete demarcation of electoral constituencies by mid-January 2017.

Published: 17-06-2016 08:56

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