Oppn, Madhes parties want local polls in single phase

April 29, 2017 07:02 AM Republica

KATHMANDU, April 28: Various opposition parties as well as the agitating Madhes-based parties represented in parliament have asked the government to hold local election in a single phase. 

During an all-party meeting held at the official residence of Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal in Baluwatar on Friday evening, the parties asked the government to defer the polls scheduled for May 14 and hold the polls in a single phase across the country.

According to General Secretary of the newly-formed Rastriya Janata Party (RJP) Keshav Jha, the main opposition CPN-UML, Federal Socialist Forum Nepal (FSFN), and Madhesi People’s Rights Forum (Democratic) asked the government to hold the election in a single phase. The agitating Rastriya Janata Party (RJP) also made it clear that it would not have any objection if the major parties agreed to hold the local level polls in a single phase.

The demand by the opposition as well as the agitating parties comes in the wake of the government preparing to hold the local-level elections in two phases. While the elections in provinces 3, 4 and 6 are scheduled for May 14, elections in provinces 1, 2, 5 and 7 will be held on June 14.

The meeting called by Prime Minister Dahal discussed endorsing the new constitution amendment proposal prepared as per the understanding with the agitating Madhes-based parties, successfully holding local elections and unveiling budget for the new fiscal year. Prime Minister Dahal had sought the views of the parties present at the meeting, according to Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Bimalendra Nidhi.

Nidhi said they had a positive discussion on endorsing the constitution amendment bill. “There have been mixed opinions on the issue of vote counting and new budget,” Nidhi said. The parties are at odds over whether the votes should be counted right after the first phase of elections or only after holding the second phase elections.

During the meeting, Prime Minister Dahal urged the opposition parties to support the constitution amendment bill with revision as it could increase the ownership of all communities of the constitution.

However UML leader Agni Kharel had said that they would make their position clear only after studying the revised bill. Along with the UML, Nepal Workers and Peasants Party, Rastriya Janamorcha Nepal and Bahujan Shakti Party said that they cannot support the existing bill on statute amendment.

On the issue of unveiling the new budget, most leaders had argued that vote counting after the first phase of elections and annual budget could influence the second-phase elections. In reply, the prime minister said that the budget could be deferred and presented only after the elections by removing constitutional hurdles.

However, he said that the counting of votes of the first phase elections cannot be deferred till the next phase since there is a legal provision requiring that the ballot-boxes should remain with the returning officers until the counting is completed and the provision raises practical difficulties.

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