Govt calls two major elections for Nov 26

- PRITHVI MAN SHRESTHA, Kathmandu
The EC has said it will discuss government decision on holding two polls together and respond accordingly

Aug 22, 2017-The government on Monday announced elections of provincial assemblies and federal parliament for November 26.

A Cabinet meeting decided to hold both the elections on the same date in line with an understanding reached among three major parties last week.

“Both elections will be held together on November 26 in view of the possible difficulty in holding polls in mountainous regions during winter,” said Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Education Gopal Man Shrestha after the Cabinet meeting.  “The government, however, is ready to reconsider elections in phases if the Ministry of Home Affairs and the EC come up with such suggestions in view of security and logistical management.”

The EC had earlier made a tentative proposal of provincial elections on November 

20 and federal polls on December 7.

The constitutional provision requires the country to hold three elections—local, provincial and federal—by January 21 next year.

Two phases of local level elections were held on May 14 and June 28 and the last round is scheduled for September 18 in Province 2. 

“The government has called both elections on the single date. We will discuss the government decision at the EC and convey our point of view to the government soon,” said Election Commissioner Sudhir Shah. 

With only 97 days in hand, the major challenge before the EC will be printing ballot papers and managing other logistics. 

According to the poll body, around 34 million ballot papers will be required for the two elections. Election officials said they are concerned whether the Janak Sikshya Samagari Kendra (JSSK) will be able to complete printing the required ballot papers on time. The state-owned printing company had taken 45 days to print 16 million ballot papers for the local elections. 

Three major parties and the EC have agreed in principle to have two ballot papers for each voter—one for the First-Past-the-Post (FPTP) election system and another for the proportional election system—for both the elections. 

The EC has also been demanding laws for holding both the elections. The Bill on Election for House of Representatives and the Bill on Elections for Provincial Assembly are stuck at Parliament’s State Affairs Committee. 

The EC also needs a report from the Constituency Delimitation Commission (CDC), which has to carve out 165 constituencies across the country by August 31.

The two elections will be key to ending Nepal’s long-drawn transition from the monarchy to the federal republic. 

A peace deal in 2006 brought then rebel Maoists to mainstream politics and two years later Nepal abolished the 239-year-old monarchy. The country has been mired in instability since. 

Nepal faced one of the biggest natural disasters in decades in 2015 when twin quakes in April and May caused widespread devastation, killing nearly 9,000 people and leaving hundreds of thousands of people homeless. The quakes, however, brought major parties together to rush a new charter amid protests by Madhesi parties. Protests in the run-up to the constitution promulgation and after left more than 50 people dead along the plains. 

Parliament on January 23, 2016 amended the constitution, but failed to satisfy the protesting parties. An attempt to amend the constitution for a second time failed on Monday, as the ruling parties, which had promised charter revision, could not ensure the required numbers in Parliament. The two elections scheduled for November 26 are expected to bring stability in the country, lack of which has stifled growth and development and made investors wary. 

Published: 22-08-2017 07:44

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