Govt appears set to announce poll dates

  • Delay could affect prospects of local elections by May: NC, Maoist Centre
- TIKA R PRADHAN, Kathmandu

Feb 20, 2017-The government appears all set to declare dates for local level elections, most likely on Monday or Tuesday, with the ruling coalition—the CPN (Maoist Centre) and the Nepali Congress—on Sunday reaching a conclusion that any further delay in announcing dates would make holding elections by May difficult. 

But what the two parties stopped short of figuring out on Sunday was how the polls would be made possible if the agitating Madhes-based parties refuse to budge from their stance and insisted on passing the constitution amendment bill.

A leader present in the meeting told the Post that the two governing parties decided to hold “final talks” with the Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha (SLMM). 

Sunday’s understanding between the governing parties to announce poll dates at the earliest comes despite the Morcha’s warning on Saturday that they would not hesitate to sever ties with the ruling alliance if the government moved ahead without addressing their concerns. 

Some constituents of the Morcha, particularly the Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum-Nepal led by Upendra Yadav, have even threatened to launch fresh protest the day the government announces poll dates. 

The Maoist-Congress alliance had promised the Madhes-based parties that the new government under Dahal would address their concerns through an amendment to the constitution. 

The constitution amendment bill tabled in Parliament has been vehemently opposed by the CPN-UML. The Morcha has maintained that it will not participate in elections until the statute amendment bill is endorsed. 

“Both the Maoist Centre and NC firmly believe that local level elections will be held only after finalising the constitution amendment bill,” said senior Maoist Centre leader Narayan Kaji Shrestha after Sunday’s meeting of the ruling alliance. “The ruling coalition also took cognizance of the fact that polls would be impossible if the dates are not declared at the earliest.”

Some sources claimed that the government could announce the dates and hold polls in Hill and mountain districts if the Morcha refuses to participate. Leaders present at the ruling coalition’s meeting, however, would not confirm the claim. 

When asked, PM Dahal’s Chief Political Adviser Chakrapani Khanal said the government would declare poll dates on Monday. But Maoist Centre Spokesperson Pampha Bhusal hinted that it could be on Tuesday. 

Another pressing issue that the government has to deal with is the Local Level Restructuring Commission (LLRC) report.  According to a leader present in the meeting, the ruling alliance has decided to send the restructuring report back to the LLRC for “necessary corrections” in line with the recommendations made by a three-member ministerial taskforce

When asked about the possibility of government sending the report back to him, LLRC Chairman Balananda Poudel said the commission “is preparing to wrap up its business”. The commission was formed in March last year with a mandate of one year to determine the number and boundaries of local units—village and municipal councils. After it was asked to expedite its work, LLRC submitted its report on January 6, recommending 719 local units across the country. 

After the Morcha, which has objected to the LLRC report, called for revision, the government on February 2 formed a ministerial taskforce to look into the issue. The taskforce has recommended an increase in number of local units in eight district of Province 2, but shied away from saying how many units could be added. But it is believed that 25 units at maximum could be added, as the LLRC had earlier fixed the ceiling of local units at 744. 

Published: 20-02-2017 07:59

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