Nepal ethnic minorities reluctant to participate in phase-II local polls

By Binod Prasad Adhikari
Kathmandu [Nepal], June 1 (ANI): The commencement of Phase II local polls in Nepal has casted further doubts as the agitating ethnic minorities are showing their reluctance to go for the polls, scheduled for June 28.
Rajendra Mahato, one of the members of the Rastriya Janata Party (RJP), which was formed after the merger of six agitating Madheshi based parties, stressed on the need to create favourable environment before heading for the polls.
Mahato said that the government has failed to fulfill certain promises to ensure their participation in phase II polls.
"The demands which were raised by the RJP are, amendment in the constitution, increase the number of local units on the basis of population, false case registered against our cadres should be dropped, release of prisoners, granting martyrdom status, all these things where not fulfilled by the government," Mahato told ANI.
"Unless the dates for the elections are changed, there cannot be preparation. The election date is rescheduled for 28 (June), but there is strong need to create favourable environment for the election," he added.
The Nepal Government deferred the phase-II polls after the reports of ethnic minorities to conduct protest emerged.
The Pushpa Kamal Dahal led-government had made an agreement with the agitating parties to address their demands at the time of government formation almost a year ago.
The government already fulfilled one of their demands by granting martyrdom status to the deceased and also initiated steps to drop the charges against the innocent Madhesis, but the agitating parties have been demanding to expedite the process.
Mahato said the people from southern plains might go for protest to re-claim their rights.
Earlier this week, the Madhesi leaders met the Indian High Commissioner in Nepal over the same.
"India has been in support with us with people, including the Madhesis and the Nepalese. Whenever the people of Nepal struggled for their right, India, a democratic nation, has been with Nepal. I still believe that Nepali citizen who struggles for their right as a democratic nation, will remain with us," Mahato said.
The June 28 election will cover the areas which have vast majority of ethnic groups, including Maheshis and always has been volatile over two years.
The four provinces in the southern plain have around nine million voters who will exercise their voting right in the phase- II election.
The constitution, which was promulgated in 2015 and has been opposed by ethnic minorities, has set the timeline of January 2018 to hold three tier elections namely: local, provincial and the Centre.
But the political rift at present hints that Nepal won't be able to achieve the desired results on time. (ANI)

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