Polls uncertain as govt ties up amendment and election bills

Published On: January 20, 2017 03:47 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, Jan 20: The prospect of holding local elections has become uncertain, with the government tying up the constitution amendment bill tabled in parliament with the local elections. 

The government plans to endorse the constitution amendment bill along with the election-related bills. As the opposition parties have strongly opposed the constitution amendment bill, the government has failed to even announce the election date for lack of election-related laws.

As the UML strongly opposed the government's move to register the constitution amendment bill in parliament, the government later piggy-backed it onto the polls-related bills. The main opposition UML and other opposition parties have been strongly demanding that the government announce the local poll date. 

"The prime minister himself is in confusion. When he talks to the UML he talks about expediting the election-related bills. But then when he talks to the Madhes-based parties he seems to be talking about moving forward the constitution amendment bill," said former law minister Agni Kharel.

Kharel, who is also a UML leader, alleged that the prime minister is pursuing a strategy of prolonging his stay in power by extending the House session even as the government has failed to give it any business. 

The government has found itself in a quandary as the agitating Madhes-based political parties have announced a boycott of the election if it takes  place without the endorsement of the amendment bill.

"We are not in a position to go to elections without the constitution amendment. We cannot go to elections with the issues of amendment as our political agenda," said General Secretary of National Madhes Socialist Party Keshav Jha.

The main opposition party suspended its month-long House obstruction only to allow the election-related bills to move forward. The nine-party opposition alliance has already announced resumption of House obstructions if the government introduces the amendment proposal into House business. 

For this reason the government has not introduced the amendment bill as House business. Party insiders said the ruling parties have not taken any initiative to resolve the complex situation. "There has not been any talks with the UML leaders since the last one week on resolving the current political stalemate," Kharel further said.

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