Decision to increase number of local units puts EC in a fix

The EC says it cannot make any comment as it is yet to receive information about the government decision of increasing 22 local units in 12 Tarai districts

May 24, 2017-The government’s decision to increase the number of local units in 12 districts along the plains three weeks before the scheduled second phase of local elections has left the Election Commission (EC) in a fix.

A Cabinet meeting on Monday evening decided to add 22 local units in 12 Tarai districts in a bid to bring the agitating Madhes-based parties on board the poll process. The Cabinet also decided to elevate Birgunj and Biratnagar as metropolitan cities and declare 24 village councils municipalities. 

Chief Election Commissioner Ayodhee Prasad Yadav said that the government had not communicated its decision of increasing the number of local units to the EC. 

“We cannot comment now, as we have not received any information [about the government decision],” he said. 

Change in the number of local units in the districts would mean the poll body 

has to readjust the voter list. The move will also have an impact on distribution of voter ID cards. 

“The decision to increase the number of local units at this point of time has made it difficult for us, as it has added challenges and we have so little time,” said Election Commissioner Narendra Dahal. “Once we get formal communication from the government, we will assess the time required to update the voter list.” 

After the conduction of first phase of local elections for 283 local units in 34 districts of Province 3, 4 and 6 on May 14, voting has been scheduled for June 14 in 41 districts of Provinces 1, 2, 5 and 7. 

But the Rastriya Janata Party Nepal (RJPN), a unified force of six Madhes-based parties, continued with its demand of constitution amendment and increasing the number of local units before the June 14 voting, forcing the government to add local units in 12 districts. 

With the increase in number of local units, voting now has to take place for 483 local units instead of 461 units. 

The government on Monday decided to add three units each in Sarlahi, Nawalparasi, Rupandehi, and Kapilvastu; two each in Sunsari and Rautahat; and one each in Parsa, Dhanusha, Bara, Saptari, Kailali and Banke.

Similarly, 11 village councils in Rautahat, three in Mahottari, two each in Banke, Rupandehi and Jhapa and one each in Siraha, Dhanusha, Bara and Kailali have been made municipalities.

“Holding elections on June 14 by adjusting these added local units is extremely challenging,” said Election Commissioner Ila Sharma. 

Only 10 days are remaining for nomination filing for the second phase of polls. The EC must complete printing voter list and voter identity cards and adjust polling centres by June 2—-the day nominations will be filed. “Technically, it is not feasible to hold elections on June 14 in the wake of new developments,” said Narendra Dahal, another EC commissioner.

Earlier on April 23, the poll body had asked Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal to increase the number of local units “within a week” if the government wanted to do so.

Published: 24-05-2017 07:46

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