Govt should rethink CA poll date: Commissioner Yadav
Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai on May 27 announced new elections for a Constituent Assembly (CA) in November. While making his statement, he claimed that he took such a decision after receiving a nod from the Election Commission (EC) that it could hold new elections within the stipulated deadline. The government has announced the election date a month before the retirement date for Acting Chief Election Commissioner Neelkantha Uprety and a month before the retirement of Commissioners duo Dolakh Bahadur Gurung and Dr Ayodhi Prasad Yadav. Gani Ansari of Republica caught up with Yadav on Tuesday to talk about the challenges of holding new CA elections within the next six months. Excerpts:
The government has announced it is to hold an election for a new constituent assembly in November. Is it possible to conduct an election within the next six months?
From the government side it is possible. That´s why the government has announced the new election. We have heard that political parties, which are major actors in the electoral process, have been saying there should be a correction in the process.
And we, from our side, have been repeatedly telling different stakeholders that we can hold a new election; that there is no problem. But the most important things are legal tools and documents by means of which we can operate and manage the election.
What are these legal tools and documents?
One of the tools is the Interim Constitution, which needs to be amended. It has to readjust the cut-off date for the eligible voter age. Another important tool is the Act on Registration and Expenditures of Political Parties. We managed the political parties during the Constituent Assembly (CA) election in 2008 through the Election Commission Act and the Interim Constitution. But, we need a separate act this time.
In the meantime, there should be consensus among the political parties regarding the new election. Otherwise, it will be like the local elections which were held during Gyanedra´s regime.
So, if the legal documents are prepared and the political parties forge a consensus, can the EC carry out a new election?
Of course! But, another thing I would like to tell you is that the election must be weather-friendly.
So what about the Mangsir (November) date for the new election? Should the government reconsider the announced date?
It is neither eco-friendly nor voter friendly. Yeah! The government should reconsider the date as it is harvest season for farmers.
Can the political parties persuade the international community over financial and technical support for a CA election yet again? How could the nation afford to hold such an election again?
I cannot comment on that as it does not fall within my jurisdiction. But we have not heard any comment from the international community. So, it is worth pondering whether we would receive massive support from the international community as during the 2008 election. If we decide to go for electronic voting, we will need support from the international community. They had assisted the EC in preparing ballot papers in the 2008 election.