Nepal’s major parties agree on local polls, but issues remain

Kathmandu, Dec 28 (IANS) Amid strong reservations from Madhes-based political parties, Nepal’s three major parties — the Nepali Congress, CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Centre) — have agreed to announce the date for local government polls within a week.

At a luncheon meeting called by Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ on Wednesday, the three parties agreed to hold the elections at the local government level but remained silent over the proposed Constitution amendment.

None of the Madhes-based parties was invited by the Prime Minister for the meeting.

Though the major parties have agreed on to hold the local polls, on what basis these should be held has yet to be ascertained.

The new Constitution has envisioned new templates at local level but due to time constraints and disputes in several districts over the demarcation of the proposed local government units, parties could not agree on fixing the modality of the local polls.

If the parties agree on new templates, which is also the demand of Madhes-based parties, the entire old demarcation of the local units would ned to be restructured as per geography and population ratio.

Some parties like the Nepali Congress have been calling for holding the local elections on the basis of the old templates due to time constraints, dispute in several districts over the number of local units, and need to provide resources to the new units, among others.

In a bid to address the demands of Madhes-based parties, the Nepal government had registered a Bill incorporating these issues, but the proposal has remained in limbo in Parliament because of opposition by the main opposition CPN-UML since November 29.

The Madhes-based political parties have been urging the government to amend the Constitution first in order to address their demands and grievances related to citizenship, federal boundaries, making the Constitution more inclusive and issue of language. The proposal to hold local elections without consent of Madhes based parties, therefore, is likely to spark new confrontation in Nepal.

Any elections without statutory amendment will not be acceptable to Madhesis, said one prominent Madhes-based leader, Upendra Yadav.

“Congress, UML and Maoist are pushing the country to another edge of confrontation,” he said.

CPN (Maoist Centre) leader Narayan Kaji Shrestha said the major parties held intensive discussionsover the local elections issue and agreed to fix their date within a week after consulting the Madhesi Front.

Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Bimalendra Nidhi said the main opposition party rejected the request for allowing Parliament to resume its business.

“Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba urged the UML to remove the Parliament obstruction for moving ahead as per the due process, but the UML Chairman K.P. Sharma Oli said that was not possible,” Nidhi stated.

During the meeting the UML leaders, while agreeing on the local elections, took the stance that the Parliament obstruction could not be removed unless the amendment proposal was withdrawn.

UML vice-chairman Bhim Rawal said after the meeting: “The government should make it clear as to how it wanted to go ahead in this regard, on our part we are ready to move forward by forging consensus.”

–IANS

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