Kathmandu, April 25
Clouds of uncertainty hover over holding of local bodies’ election, as no preparation has been made for drafting related laws and the government and major political parties are not even making any attempt for consensus.
Before promulgating the new constitution on September 20, the major political parties had agreed to hold the local polls, which have not been held for 18 years, within six months.
However, there is no any sign of holding the polls even after seven months of the promulgation of the new constitution.
Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and Minister for Federal Affairs and Local Development Kamal Thapa had repeatedly announced in public and in the Parliament that the government would hold the elections of local bodies for interim period, as it would take time to hold the polls in accordance with the new provisions set by the new constitution.
As the commission formed on March 14 to determine names, number, boundaries and economic viability of local bodies is mandated to accomplish its work within one year of its formation, the commission’s report will pave the way to hold the local bodies’ elections as per the new provisions.
As no preparation has been made to hold polls for the interim period, the government and the parties seem to be willing to go for the polls only after the new structures of the local bodies are set as per the new statute.
“Even if the government wants to hold the polls as per the existing structures of local bodies, the Parliament will have to pass law to ensure reservation for underprivileged groups in the local bodies.
The government will have to forge consensus among all parties for interim local polls.
However, the government is not doing anything to pass such laws and forge consensus,” said Nepali Congress leader Ramesh Lekhak.
Commissioner of Election Commission Ila Sharma said, “EC had forwarded two draft laws Local Body Election Procedure Act (amendment) and Local Self Governance Act (amendment) which are required for local bodies’ elections.
However, the government has not taken any initiative to pass the laws from the Parliament though the commission forwarded the draft laws one and a half years ago,” Sharma said.
The EC can begin homework for polls only after related laws are passed, she said.
On April 1, the Cabinet had decided to forward the Bill on Local Body Election Procedure Act (amendment) to the Parliament.
However, the Parliament Secretariat has not received the bill yet, according to the bill section’s officer Udbir Nepali.
Bill on Local Self Governance Act (amendment) is stranded at the Development Committee of the Legislature Parliament for a long time, as the parties have shown no interest in passing it.
State Minister for Federal Affairs and Local Development Kunti Kumari Shahi said, “Passing of the two related bills and political consensus among parties is a must for holding the local bodies’ elections.”
A few days ago, DPM Thapa expressed the possibility of holding civic polls in November but the polls cannot be held until the related laws are endorsed by the Parliament, according to the ministry’ spokesperson Purna Chandra Bhattarai.
Agitating Madhes-based parties are opposed to holding of the local bodies’ election without settling the issue of boundaries of federal units.
“The United Democratic Madhesi Front has officially decided that the local polls cannot be held without resolving the issues of federal boundaries,” said Tarai Madhes Democratic Party leader Sarvendra Nath Shukla.
Lawmakers at State Affairs Committee of the Parliament had recently sought to hold the polls in at least 14 earthquake affected districts that are facing serious problems in relief and reconstruction works in the absence of elected local bodies.