Kathmandu, February 20
More than 17 months after the civic polls, 900 posts of elected representatives of local governments are still lying vacant. Two posts of provincial assembly members, one in Bhaktapur and one in Baglung, are also lying vacant.
According to Spokesperson for the Election Commission Shankar Prasad Kharel, the vacant posts include three posts of chiefs of local levels, including one chairperson in Sankhuwasabha, one in Panchthar district and one post of mayor of Dharan Municipality, and 36 posts of ward chairpersons.
Vacant posts of ward members include 416 in general category and 211 reserved for women. As many as 235 posts reserved for Dalit ward members also remain vacant — 175, because during the last local elections there was no Dalit candidate to contest!
In fact, there are laws to conduct by-elections only for members of the House of Representatives, provincial assemblies and chiefs and deputy chiefs of local levels, but not for ward chairpersons and ward members.
Spokesperson for the Election Commission Shankar Prasad Kharel said the EC was ready to hold by-elections for all the vacant posts of local levels and provincial assembles, but it had not been able to do so mainly because of lack of laws and resources. “The government needs to fix dates for by-elections, assist the EC to hold by-elections and coordinate by-election related work,” Kharel said. He added that once relevant laws were enacted, the EC could hold by-elections simultaneously within two months.
When asked why the EC had not held by-elections for the posts for which there were clear provisions in the prevailing laws, Kharel said, “The government needs to allocate budget and fix dates for those by-elections.”
Spokesperson for the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Dhanraj Gyawali said the Bill to Amend Some Nepal Acts had incorporated provision to hold by-elections for ward chairpersons and once it was passed the EC would be able to hold by-elections for ward chairpersons. The bill has already been tabled in the Parliament.
According to him, the line ministry is not in favour of holding by-elections for ward members mainly because posts of ward members are not executive posts.
Chief Election Commissioner Ayodhi Prasad Yadav, however, said all the vacant posts, including those of ward members, should be filled through by-election.
“In democracy, all the posts, whether they enjoy executive powers or assist the executive post holders, should be filled,” Yadav added.
Ministry of Home Affairs Spokesperson Ram Krishna Subedi said if the Election Commission drafted a bill proposing to hold by-elections for ward members as well, the MoHA, which works as
a liaison ministry, would forward the bill to the Cabinet. EC Spokesperson Kharel, however, said the government would have to give green signal for the same and once it did so, the EC would prepare a new draft accordingly.
A version of this article appears in print on February 21, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.