Turn confusion into clarity

  • New government should ensure that the remaining elections are held successfully

May 22, 2017-

If all goes well, Prime Minister Dahal will soon start to clear the way for Deuba to head the government, now that the first phase of local elections is over. The Maoist Centre chairman said as much in his interview with Kantipur yesterday. With a number of controversies surrounding his premiership—not least the unresolved Ncell tax issue and the impeachment motion against Chief Justice Sushila Karki—that the local elections were held after 20 long years is a huge political feather in his cap.

Now it’s up to the PM-in-waiting, Sher Bahadur Deuba, to successfully carry the baton forward by holding the second phase of the local elections, followed by provincial and general elections. For the NC president, this offers a historic opportunity to redeem his political legacy. The fact that it was during his premiership, in 2005, that king Gyanendra made a power grab makes Deuba a leader with a highly questionable character in the eyes of a large section of the people. It’s time he set the record straight by showing commitment to new elections.

While the vote count for the first phase of the local elections is ongoing, mainly in the four metropolises, the Election Commission (EC) is busy preparing for the second phase. However, there are still a number of political problems that need to be dealt with if elections are to take place as scheduled on June 14. The main issue is the dispute between the government and the Rastriya Janata Party Nepal. The RJPN has maintained that it will participate in elections only if a constitution amendment is passed and the number of local units in 11 Tarai districts is increased. But the government has been unable to gain enough support in Parliament to achieve the two-thirds majority necessary for the amendment. 

This situation has placed the RJPN in a difficult position. Its leaders do not wish to be seen as obstructing the elections and have no desire to launch protests. The RJPN members say they are willing to participate in the second phase if the government commits to passing the amendment sometime after the local elections but before the provincial elections, and increases the number of local units. This is a compromise from their original position. The major political parties should respond to this with flexibility. 

The government has taken additional measures to accommodate the RJPN, such as by providing compensation for victims of the violence in Tikapur in 2015. While we do support prosecution of those involved in violent incidents, the people directly involved in the killings have to be identified first, or else the charges would be arbitrary and unjust. Many Tharu leaders are detained simply because they 

happened to be leaders of their community. Many of them were not even in Kailali district when the violence occurred.    

The 73 percent turnout in the first phase makes it clear that the Nepali people want polls and that they want their leaders to seek a fresh mandate. Now it’s up to the new government and all major political forces to ensure remaining polls are held successfully. 

Published: 22-05-2017 07:38

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