Election Commission preparing for local polls against all odds

  • The election-governing body may formally ask parties to register names for local polls in a week
  • Officials believe the decision could spur parties into shifting their focus towards elections

Jan 4, 2017-

The Election Commission (EC) is preparing to issue a formal notice to the political parties asking them to get their names registered for the local level elections through its district election offices, according to Election Commissioner Ila Sharma.

 Sharma has said the election offices in all 75 districts could issue the notice within a week, as the EC is accelerating its preparations to hold the polls by April-May this year.  

Pressed by the constitutional deadline for staging all three-level polls by January 2018, the election-governing body is preparing to conduct the local level elections in April-May. 

However, the formal date for the local level elections has not been announced yet since there is still confusion over whether the government or the EC should decide the poll date. Neither the constitution nor any election law has specified who should make the call.

The prospects of holding the local level elections in time have also been further muddied by the uncertainty among the political parties regarding local level restructuring. The parties are still undecided whether to contest the polls in the existing structure or the new one, as recommended by the Local Level Restructuring Commission. 

Likewise, several election-related bills, registered in Parliament, have also been put on hold, which could upset the EC’s plan for holding the planned local 

elections in time.

The Bill to Amend and Integrate Laws related to the Election Commission, the Bill Related to Voters’ List, and the Bill to Amend and Integrate Laws Related to Political Parties have been languishing at the State Affairs Committee of Parliament for nearly three months now. 

Similarly, two other election-related bills to amend the Local Election Procedure Act and the Election (Offence and Punishment) Act, which were registered at the Parliament Secretariat in the second week of December, are awaiting deliberations in Parliament for weeks now, thanks to the repeated obstructions in parliamentary proceedings caused by the opposition lawmakers who are protesting the constitution amendment bill for reconfiguration of Province 5.    

The EC has also been urging the government and the political parties to pass these bills as early possible, so that it could have sufficient time to prepare for the local level elections. 

Sharma believes that the decision taken by the EC concerning the local level elections, despite the confusions and political bickering,  could spur the political parties into shifting their focus towards the elections with a sense of pressing urgency.

  Other EC officials agree. They said the preparations made by the commission could give momentum for staging the elections at the earliest. 

The EC is doing its part and the political parties and the government should do the same, they added.

Published: 04-01-2017 10:03

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