‘Local elections by May-end’

  • PM Dahal’s political adviser Chakrapani Khanal says dates will be announced in 10 days
- SARIN GHIMIRE, Kathmandu
Ruling Maoist Centre and NC ‘unwilling’ to wait until the amendment bill is passed to announce the local poll dates

Jan 13, 2017-The ruling coalition seems optimistic about announcing the local polls in about 10 days, with the government planning to hold the elections by May-end.

As the constitution amendment bill tabled in Parliament has been put up for deliberations, talks are ongoing with the stakeholders concerned on announcing the local poll dates, considering the timeframe given by the constitution to hold local, provincial and federal polls by January, 2018, ruling party leaders said.

Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s chief political adviser Chakrapani Khanal on Thursday said the government would announce the poll dates in about 10 days. “Once we announce the local poll dates for either the third or fourth week of May, we will work towards passing the constitution amendment bill. By the time we hold the local polls, we will make sure that the amendment bill is passed,” said Khanal.

Law Minister Ajaya Shankar Nayak confirmed that they were holding discussions with other parties about the elections. “We have finally received the local level restructuring report. Some parties have also raised their concerns on the work 

of the commission. We will find an amicable solution in about a week’s time to make sure that all the forces are ready to hold the local polls,” the CPN (Maoist Centre) leader told the Post.

The Local Level Restructuring Commission handed its report last Friday to Local Development Minister Hitraj Pandey in the presence of Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal and other Cabinet ministers. But the Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha, an alliance of seven Madhes-based parties, has rejected the LLRC’s proposal outright.

Objecting to the criteria set for the LLRC to fix the boundaries and number of local units, they insist on population to be the sole basis for determining the number of local units in the Tarai. The LLRC had to carve out local units in Province 2 based on feedbacks from other parties after the Madhesi parties boycotted the consultation meetings organised by the technical committee. Madhesi leaders have set passing the amendment bill as a precondition to participating in the elections.

But the ruling coalition of the Maoist Centre and NC seems unwilling to wait until the amendment bill is passed to announce the local poll dates. “The process has already moved forward and it will take about a month’s time. There are so many preparations to complete before we fix a concrete date for the polls,” he added.

Among the election-related bills, five are in Parliament for discussion--Bill on Voter List; Bill on Duties, Functions and Jurisdiction of the Election Commission; Bill to Amend and Integrate Laws Related to Political Parties; Bill on Local Election; and Bill on Election Crime and Punishment.

The government is said to be in the final stages of drafting the remaining bills--Bill on Electoral Constituencies Delineation Commission; Bill on Election of Provincial Assemblies; Bill on Election of House of Representatives; and Bill on Election of National Assembly.

Nepali Congress senior leader Ram Chandra Poudel said the Madhesi Morcha, now that the statute amendment bill is tabled, should be ready to take part in the polls without any conditions. 

“They had told us that they would accept the polls if the bill was tabled. They cannot be adding another precondition that the bill should be passed before the polls,” Poudel said. “The Madhesi Morcha should pitch the agendas of amendment as it goes to the polls. Both the bill and the elections should go ahead simultaneously.”

Published: 13-01-2017 10:03

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