No poll date before amendment: PM

February 4, 2017 07:42 AM Republica

KATHMANDU, Feb 4: A day after the government directed the Election Commission (EC) to remain logistically prepared to hold elections, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal has assured the agitating Madhes-based parties that the government would not announce the date for local level elections without first addressing their constitutional grievances. 

In a meeting with senior leaders of the Madhes-based parties at his official residence at Baluwatar on Friday evening, Prime Minister Dahal assured them that the government would formally announce the date of the election only after amending the constitution, according to senior CPN (Maoist Center) leader Narayan Kaji Shrestha. 

The prime minister had invited in the top leaders of the Madhes-based parties as they had taken exception to the government’s decision to direct the EC to prepare logistically for the election. “I decided to call you for a meeting to make sure that you do not take our decision amiss. Rest assured that the government will announce the formal date for elections only after bringing about amendment to the constitution,” Shrestha quoted the prime minister as saying. 

Senior Madhes-based leaders including Mahantha Thakur, Laxman Lal Karna, Raj Kishor Yadav, Sarbendra Nath Shukla and Dharmendra Shah were present at the meeting. The prime minister had clarified that the decision of the government to direct the EC to prepare for elections was to make sure the EC had enough time to prepare even as negotiations to settle the constitutional amendment may take some time still. 

The two sides have also agreed to make efforts to secure the requisite two-third vote to endorse the seven-point constitutional amendment bill registered in parliament. The main opposition, CPN-UML as well as other opposition parties are opposed to the amendment bill.

The prime minister also asked the Madhes-based parties to cooperate with the task force formed by the cabinet on Thursday to give suggestions on revising the report submitted by the local level restructuring commission (LLRC). “This task force was formed in order to see how your demands on revising the federal units can be met. I want you to extend full cooperation to it,” Shrestha quoted the prime minister as further saying. 

The three-member task force headed by Minister for Federal Affairs and Local Development Hit Raj Pandey is entrusted with studying problems seen over the delineation of new local units particularly in Province 2, and suggesting within two weeks necessary changes to be made in the report. The government will make necessary announcements related to local polls on the basis of the recommendations of the task force.

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