Sub-panel seeks more time to talk poll-related bills

A meeting of the State Affairs Committee is expected to extend the deadline on Sunday

Jan 8, 2017-A subcommittee of the State Affairs Committee formed to conclude three election-related bills has decided to seek more time for holding discussion with stakeholders after its deadline expired on Thursday.

The SAC formed the 11-member subcommittee on December 22 to settle the differences among lawmakers in the Bill to Amend and Integrate Laws related to the Election Commission, Bill Related to Voters’ List and Bill to Amend and Integrate Laws Related to Political Parties and to submit its report within 15 days. These bills have been pending in the SAC since the third week of October.

Lawmakers are divided over vote threshold, state funding for political parties, strengthening the Election Commission, allowing the EC to fix the election date and the number of signatures required to register a political party. The subcommittee decided on Thursday to demand more time from the SAC to finalise the bills. “We decided to seek more time from the parliamentary committee as we have yet to hold discussion with the stakeholders,” said Ananda Dhungana, a member of the sub-panel.

He said meetings with former chief election commissioners and attorney generals over the bills had been held. “Now, we plan to hold discussion with the lawmakers who have tabled amendment proposals to these bills as well as members of the Nepal Bar Association,” he said, expressing hope for a deadline extension.

Another meeting of the SAC scheduled for Sunday is expected to extend the deadline. SAC Chairman Dil Bahadur Gharti said the consultation had taken longer than expected.

“Once the report of the subcommittee reaches the SAC, we will urgently send the bills to the House,” he said.

With Parliament taking time to pass the election-related bills, there is no law for 

the EC to make preparations for the polls. Laws are necessary to make electoral 

changes according to the new constitution.

Two more poll-related bills--Local Election Procedure Act and Election (Offence and Punishment) Act--were registered in the Parliament Secretariat in the second week of December.

But they have not moved forward for discussion due to the ongoing obstruction to Parliament by the opposition parties led by the CPN-UML.

These bills are essential for holding the local elections by April-May. “If we don’t get the laws and the report of the Local Level Restructuring Commission is not implemented in the next two weeks, it will be difficult to hold the local polls by mid-May,” said Ila Sharma, an election commissioner.

Published: 08-01-2017 07:18

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