No time to lose
- CDC’s report is almost complete, now lawmakers and govt must help EC complete polls
Aug 30, 2017-The Constituency Delimitation Commission (CDC) is nearly done with a report that, in essence, should guide the delineation of electoral constituencies in the nation for the next 20 years. While the CDC, formed on July 20 and given 21 days to complete its work, missed its initial deadline, it is heartening to see that this important step towards holding polls by January 2018 is nearing completion. The CDC has had the difficult task of bringing the number of electoral constituencies down to 165 from the current number of 340; it also had to delineate a further 330 constituencies for provincial elections. Once the government adopts the report, the constituency boundaries cannot be changed or challenged in court for the next 20 years. The constitution mandates that the CDC determine constituencies in a way that ensures that the ratio between geography, population and the number of members of such constituencies is equal, as far as practically possible.
Various political parties have been lobbying the CDC to consider different factors when completing the report, which has made the CDC’s job tougher. The CDC hosted a meeting in Kathmandu on July 30 for the various political forces to voice their opinion. While the Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal and the Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum-Nepal have been clear about their interest in having the CDC delineate constituencies based on population as the major factor, most of the major political parties have expressed the need to equally take into account geography—as mandated by the constitution. Reports suggest that the CDC has indeed taken population as the major weightage factor in creating the electoral constituencies.
The government has asked the Election Commission (EC) to prepare for provincial and federal polls for November 26. A newly elected Parliament, along with provincial assemblies, has to be established by January 2018 to avoid constitutional crisis. The EC needs two things to start planning for elections: the CDC report, and election legislation passed by Parliament for guidance and regulation. That the CDC report is near completion is commendable. However, the government and all political parties need to sit down with the report, sort out differences, and publish this report for the people and the EC to see. Knowing that the delineation cannot be legally challenged for the next 20 years, political parties need to publish the report immediately, and in consensus, so that there is no room for the report to be challenged. The lawmakers have to pass election legislation immediately as well. The EC needs time to prepare for, and conduct, fair and transparent elections. As the deadline to ratify the constitution nears, all involved need to pull up their socks and work together to ensure that Nepal’s democratic and constitutionally protected future is secure.
Published: 30-08-2017 07:54