Local elections to be held now will be for an interim period, says Kharel
Kathmandu, October 25
Newly elected Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli while addressing the Parliament after being elected PM had announced that the government would hold the election of local bodies at the earliest.
However, there are no signs that the local elections, which were last held eighteen years ago, would be conducted any time soon, as protest by disgruntled parties and groups continue in various parts of the country.
Successive governments after 1997 announced that they would hold local elections but the issue was given very less importance on the pretext of constitution writing.
“The new government has held no discussion as to when the local elections should be held. As three major parties — Nepali Congress, CPN-UML and Unified CPN-Maoist – had agreed to hold local elections after the promulgation of the new constitution, the government will move ahead accordingly,” said Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Agni Prasad Kharel, who is also close to PM Oli.
It is not possible to hold elections by adopting provisions of the new constitution as the issue of state restructuring has yet to be resolved. So, local elections to be held now will be for an interim period, according to minister Kharel. “The provisions of the new constitution can be adopted only after all works of state restructuring, including delineation of provincial boundaries and electoral districts, are finalised,” he said.
Former acting chief election commissioner Dolakh Bahadur Gurung said the Parliament should endorse two laws – Local Election Procedure Act (amendment) and Local Self Governance Act (amendment) – to ensure inclusive representation of women and other backward groups as per the new constitution before holding local elections.
“First, these two acts should be amended in line with the new constitution. Then the Election Commission would need at least 120 days to hold the elections,” Gurung said, adding, “It is difficult to hold elections under the current circumstances as the government needs active support of
the political parties to hold elections.”
Nepali Congress leader and former law minister Narahari Acharya said, “The government should announce the date for local elections only after making an assessment of the political situation. I hope the government would take necessary steps to hold elections as the Unified CPN-Maoist, which was averse to the idea of holding polls, is now in the power,” he said. If the government begins immediate preparations, it will be possible to hold local polls in March-April, next year, he said. However,Sadbhavana Party co-chairman Laxman Lal Karna said it would be impossible to hold local elections until there is a new deal between the ruling and Madhes-based parties .
“Even the local leaders and cadres of NC, UML and UCPN-M have taken to the streets against certain provisions of the new constitution. As per the new constitution, the local bodies should be under the control of provinces. But currently, they are under the control of the central government,” said Karna.