State of limbo

  • The Nepali political atmosphere is changing as a result of recent events

Feb 27, 2017-There were two events in recent weeks that will have far-reaching implications for Nepali politics. First, the government announced that local elections would be held across the country on May 14. This has changed the political atmosphere. The Election Commission has sprung into action to prepare for the election, and the major political parties are gearing up to select their candidates. 

And second, the Supreme Court passed a judgment stating that the government had to hold elections to all three tiers of government—to local bodies, state assemblies and the House of Representatives—before January 21, 2018, the date when the term of the current Parliament expires. There are two crucial things in this judgment. It implies that the elections have to be held in a definite sequence—local elections first, followed by state and national elections. And second, the parties cannot be allowed to extend the term of Parliament so as to allow greater time for the electoral process.

The judgment puts significant pressure upon the parties to hold all three elections on time. Failing to do so could mean that Parliament will be dissolved, and we will have a repeat of the situation in 2012, when the first Constituent Assembly collapsed after the parties failed to reach an agreement on a new constitution. The dissolution of Parliament at that time totally derailed the political process and led to a 

constitutional crisis. It took almost two years to appoint a transitional government and to hold the elections to a second Constituent Assembly. Nepal cannot afford a repetition of such a crisis. The recent Supreme Court judgment should focus the attention of the parliamentary parties towards completing all elections on time.

There is a problem, however. Despite repeated promises, the government was unable to reach an agreement with the Madhesi parties over a constitutional amendment that would revise provincial boundaries. Due to this, the Madhesi parties have announced protests and refused to participate in elections. 

The elections held after the promulgation of the new constitution will help consolidate the gains made after 2006. Putting the country in a state of limbo will not only give way to a constitutional crisis, it will further exacerbate the confusion on the ground. Both the Madhesi parties and three major parties should, therefore, do all they can to make a compromise possible so that the country can hold the much needed 

election and without any forces questioning its integrity. It is important to bring the Madhes-based parties on board for the elections; it’s equally important that the Madhesi parties show utmost flexibility to make the elections happen.  

Published: 27-02-2017 08:09

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