Big III agree on polls

Statute amendment bill still remains a contentious issue

Kathmandu, January 21

The ruling and opposition parties stuck to their old stances at a three-party meeting on the constitution amendment bill. This means the political deadlock will continue for some time.

However, both sides agreed on announcement of the civic poll dates in three to four days and to fast-track the passage of election related bills, leaders who attended the meeting said.

According to CPN-Maoist Centre leader Narayan Kaji Shrestha, the ruling and opposition parties agreed on issues related to local polls, such as passing election related bills as soon as possible and declaring local poll dates in three to four days, but failed to forge consensus on the constitution amendment bill. “UML leaders told us to withdraw the bill but we refused to do so,” Shrestha told THT.

He said the government would declare local polls in the next three to four days and prepare to hold polls by mid-May.

Asked whether the government would now postpone the process of the constitution amendment bill, Shrestha replied in the negative: “The ruling parties want it to pass on the basis of consensus or settle the matter through the voting process, but they will decide after consulting the agitating forces.

The Federal Alliance and the United Democratic Madhesi Front have been saying they will accept polls only after a revised constitution amendment bill is passed. Nine opposition parties led by the UML have been obstructing House proceedings to stall any debate on the constitution amendment bill.

Shrestha said the government was for accepting the Local Bodies Restructuring Commission’s report after making some technical revisions. The UDMF has opposed the report saying it does not ensure population-based representation, which would be disadvantageous for the Tarai region.

UML Deputy Parliamentary Party leader Subas Chandra Nembang said the meeting agreed to announce poll dates in a couple days. He also said his party leaders told the meeting that all three types of elections — local, provincial and parliamentary — should be held before mid-December as it would be difficult to hold elections due to the cold weather in winter and the ruling parties agreed. Asked what his party would do in the House, Nembang said his party lawmakers would continue obstructing proceedings related to the constitution amendment bill but not other processes.