Nepal parties prepare to announce poll dates soon

Kathmandu, Dec 13 (IANS) Nepal’s major political parties in principle have agreed to hold elections in order to implement the Constitution, and were most likely to announce soon the dates for local bodies polls.

But Madhes-based parties in Nepal, opposing the new Constitution, have not made clear their position on polls at a time when the Nepal government has moved a Constitution amendment bill in Parliament to address the demands of these parties.

The amendment bill is in the limbo due to opposition to it in Parliament by main opposition, Communist Party of Nepal – United Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML).

The oppositon has been demanding that elections to the local bodies should take place only after restructuring them on the basis of population.

Though the Mades region holds just 17 per cent of total geographical area of Nepal, it has over 50 per cent of the country’s population due to fertile land and plain area.

If restructuring takes place on the basis of population, Madhes will have a larger pie in the Upper House, that is constituted by local level representatives.

A meeting of top leaders called by Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachandaa’ on Tuesday decided to go for local bodies elections but remained silent on the status of the Constitution amendment bill.

Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba and CPN-UML chairman A.K.P. Sharma Oli, the main opposition leader, who were present in the meeting, agreed to the polls as soon as possible in order to implement the new Constitution.

The new Constitution mandates that Nepal should hold the elections to the local levels, provincial and central Parliament by February 2018.

“I had a very positive meeting today with top leaders of two major political parties, where we agreed to go for local polls and my government is focusing on it,” said the Prime Minister at a function in Kathmandu after the meeting.

“The focus of my government is to make the Constitution more acceptable to all ranging from mountains, hills and plains,” Dahal said, adding that his focus is also on strengthening national unity.

Deuba revealed that three big political parties have agreed to local bodies elections on the old structure. However, if elections to the local bodies are held on old structure, the elected persons cannot constitute the Upper House and the Madhesis will have a larger pie on local level.

Addressing a party programme, Deuba said, “Parties were bound to hold local body election in the old structures as part of the implementation of the Constitution. As the country has adopted federalism, there was no option to holding elections in all three levels by February 2018.”