KATHMANDU, Jan 28: In view of the upcoming local elections, three new commissioners have been recommended for the Election Commission (EC), giving full shape to its five-member board.
The decision comes ahead of the government's moves to conduct local polls by May-June after resolving differences among the piolitical parties and arranging the required logistics.
A meeting of the Constitutional Council (CC) on Friday recommended three former bureaucrats--Ishwori Paudyal, Narendra Dahal and Sudheer Kumar Shah--as commissioners for the election body. Currently, Ayodhee Prasad Yadav and Ila Sharma have been working as chief election commissioner and commissioner respectively.
Paoudyal, a former defense secretary, is considered a competent bureaucrat. During his stint at the Defense Ministry, Paudyal took the lead in important reforms, such as making procurements at the army more transparent and the promotion of top brass more fair. Poudyal, who took charge as defense secretary when then prime minister Sushil Koirala was himself looking after the Defense Ministry, is believed to be close to the Nepali Congress.
His recommendation, according to sources privy to the process, was backed by that party.
Former EC secretary Narendra Dahal was backed by the main opposition CPN-UML.
Before going to the EC, Dahal had served as chief district officer in various districts and also worked briefly as head of the National ID Card Management Center under the Home Ministry.
Sudheer Kumar Shah has served in various districts as chief district officer. Just before retiring from the civil service, he was head of the Peace and Security Division of the Home Ministry. This portfolio was then held by the Maoist party and Shah's recommendation for EC commissioner is also backed by the Maoists.
Ayodhee Prasad Yadav, who was appointed EC commissioner ahead of the 2008 constituent assembly election, was promoted to chief election commissioner in July. He is considered loyal to the Maoist party although he was recommended to his post by then UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli-led Constitutional Council.
The other commissioner, Sharma, was appointed from the NC 'quota'.
Some political parties have opposed the recommendations, terming these a syndicate exercise by the three major parties. "The bhagbanda (division of spoils) and syndicate approach in appointing election commissioners is unfortunate," Rastriya Prajatantra Party Nepal Chairman Kamal Thapa wrote on Twitter after the council's decision.
A former election commissioner, however, has lauded the government's move. "It will help the commission expedite the election work," said former chief election commissioner Neel Kantha Uprety.
The commissioner-nominees will assume office after the Parliamentary Hearings Special Committee endorses the recommendations.
The EC has been asking the government to fill the vacant posts at the election body in order to conduct three sets of elections within the deadline set by the Constitution. As per the constitutional deadline, local, provincial and central level elections need to be conducted by January 2018. Since Nepal's climatic conditions offers only two windows- winter and spring- for holding elections, the government is under pressure to hold local elections by May-June so that the remaining two sets of elections could be held next year.
The government is preparing to fix dates for the local polls within days, after resolving the remaining issues among the political parties.