Elections, a must

The top leaders of the four parties in the coalition government are yet to reach a consensus on the issue of announcing a date for the parliamentary elections. They met again on Monday but failed to sort out the sharp difference, particularly between the CPN-UML and Prime Minister Deuba. CPN-UML general secretary Madhav Kumar Nepal insisted, in line with the recent decision of the party’s standing committee, that the Prime Minister should advise the King to reinstate the House as, he argued, the elections were not feasible. On the contrary, Deuba was firm on initiating the elections within this Nepali calendar year according to the royal mandate. RPP chief Rana remained non-committal. On the occasion, they continued consultations with top security officials regarding the various aspects of the proposed polls.

The coalition partners have been in power for the past seven months after they accepted the royal mandate to start elections by mid-April. Meanwhile, CPN-UML leader and deputy prime minister Bharat Mohan Adhikari has said that a proposal is going to be put before the Cabinet on behalf of the CPN-UML for making another appeal to the Maoists for peace talks, setting a new deadline of one and a half months. This idea cannot be defended. First, it is virtually certain that the rebels will reject the offer again unless it addresses their conditions. Second, if the CPN-UML thinks that the polls cannot he held in the present situation, it should have the decency to resign from the government on moral grounds for its failure to fulfil the promise by which it got into power in the first place.

The Deuba government has no right to hold on to power if it cannot give the country a new parliament and thereby a popular government. The revival of the House of Representatives cannot be a substitute, as its five-year popular mandate has already passed, and much has changed during these six years. Moreover, the people cannot be taken for granted any longer by preventing them from exercising their sovereign right. It is the partisan interests of the domestic political forces which have made things worse. For the past three years, the people have been deceived time and again on elections. The failure to hold the promised elections will demonstrate the incapability of all the political actors, in particular the Deuba government, as it enjoys executive authority transferred to it by the palace under Article 127. To ensure free and fair elections, it may be advisable, for example, to consider inviting UN supervision — an idea that just might attract even the Maoists to think in terms of holding talks and participating in the elections. Nobody has the right to exercise the powers of the State without the people’s mandate.