Polls on June 14 with added local units difficult, says EC

- PRITHVI MAN SHRESTHA, Kathmandu
According to EC officials, PM Dahal has sought to know whether postponing elections could be an option to bring agitating forces on board the poll process

May 25, 2017-Hours before announcing his resignation, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal on Wednesday sought to know from the Election Commission (EC) whether postponing the second phase of elections could be an option to bring the agitating Madhes-based parties on board the poll process. 

The second phase elections is scheduled for June 14 in Provinces 1, 2, 5 and 7, but the Madhes-based parties are yet to commit to polls, saying their concerns are yet to be addressed. 

The government on Monday, however, had decided to add 22 local units in 12 Tarai districts in a bid to address one of the demands of the the agitating parties. Constitution amendment before the second phase of polls is yet another demand of the agitating parties. 

Dahal’s query over the possibility of postponing the second round of voting follows EC’s concerns that it would be difficult to hold polls on June 14 if it were to accommodate the newly added local units. 

An EC source told the Post that PM Dahal did not explicitly called for postponing the polls but he sought to know whether postponement could be an alternative. 

Chief Election Commissioner Ayodhee Prasad Yadav and Commissioners Ila Sharma, Narendra Dahal, Ishwori Prasad Poudyal and Sudhir Shah and EC Secretary Gopinath Mainali had called on PM Dahal at Baluwatar to discuss the recent developments. 

Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba, who is the likely successor of Dahal after his resignation, Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Bimalendra Nidhi and senior CPN (Maoist Centre) leader Narayan Kaji Shrestha were also present in the meeting. 

The government’s decision to increase local units in Tarai districts just 10 days ahead of candidacy filing date has left the election body in a fix. 

Commissioner Ila Sharma said that the EC officials told PM Dahal and senior leaders that time was not enough for holding polls by adjusting the added local units. 

According to a statement issued by the EC after senior poll officials meeting with PM Dahal, CEC Yadav told the prime minister that the poll body “is fully ready to hold elections on June 14”, provided that it has to conduct elections in the remaining 463 units of 41 districts of four provinces. According to the EC, as part of poll preparations, election materials have been delivered to the districts, office of chief election offices have come into operation, offices of election officers will be opened by May 29 in all local units and election schedule has already been fixed with the candidate nomination date set for June 2.

Change in the number of local units in the districts would mean the poll body has to readjust the voter list and reprint it. Likewise, managing additional human resources, training and mobilising them would also be challenging as the second phase of polls is less than a month away. 

Given this context, the EC told PM Dahal that holding polls by adjusting new local units would be virtually impossible. 

Published: 25-05-2017 07:50

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