Ruling alliance rejects RJP-N’s poll delay call

- TIKA R PRADHAN, Kathmandu

Jun 11, 2017-The governing coalition on Saturday rejected the Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal (RJP-N)’s proposal to postpone the second phase of local elections. 

Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba told RJP-N leaders not to talk about deferring polls now as the whole country has already got into the election cycle, according to a leader.

The second phase of local elections has already been postponed twice. 

The erstwhile Pushpa Kamal Dahal government had put off the elections, earlier called for June 14, until June 23 with a view to working out a way to address the agitating RJP-N’s concerns and bring it on board the poll process. But following concerns from the Muslim community that polls on June 23, the last day of the Ramadan festival, could keep the Muslim members out of the voting process, the Dahal government again on May 31 decided to hold the second phase of local elections on June 28.

A week later, Deuba 

succeeded Dahal as the 

prime minister. 

Now with less than three weeks to go for the second phase of elections, the RJP-N has called for postponement, saying its demands still remain unaddressed.

According to a leader who was present in the meeting between the governing coalition and the RJP-N, talks will continue on Sunday as well. 

RJP-N leaders have maintained that the Congress-Maoist Centre coalition—irrespective of which party is leading the government—has failed “to do anything” to address their major demands.

As part of its bid to bring the RJP-N to the polls, the government had registered a Bill to amend the Local Level Election Act-2017, which was endorsed by majority in Parliament on Thursday. 

The Election Commission (EC) on Friday said parties, which are not registered with the EC, will have three days to submit the names and signatures of party officials. The RJP-N has to submit the details by Tuesday to get official recognition from the EC for the second phase of elections—nominations for which must be filed on June 16.

RJP-N leaders, however, say the governing parties are hesitating to address their key concerns, including an amendment to the constitution, releasing their cadres who were detained or are facing charges in relation to the Madhes and Tharuhat movements, and increasing the number of local units in Tarai districts.

The RJP-N’s proposal to postpone the second phase of polls on Saturday comes a day after PM Deuba announced that the constitution would be amended only after June 28. 

“We reminded the ruling coalition of the three-point deal it signed with us,” said RJP-N leader Anil Jha after Saturday’s meeting with PM Deuba. “They are not keen to address our concerns. We cannot join the polls in the existing circumstances.”

PM Deuba is learnt to have told the RJP-N leaders that the government “is ready to address ‘technical concerns’” that are essential to bring the agitating parties on board the poll process. “Today’s meeting was inconclusive as RJP-N leaders appeared more focused on delaying the second phase of elections than anything else,” said NC leader Bimalendra Nidhi.

Published: 11-06-2017 07:41

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