EC confused whether to relocate offices following protests

Published On: January 19, 2018 06:15 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, Jan 19: With the government announcing temporary provincial capitals in places other than where the Election Commission (EC) established its offices for conducting National Assembly polls, there is confusion over polling locations for the upper house elections.

The EC had established its offices for the National Assembly polls in places where the government has already set up the high courts.  However, the government on Wednesday fixed the temporary capitals for provinces 3, 5 and 7 in places other than where high courts have been established.

Expressing dissatisfaction over the government's decision, locals in various places including Dang and Doti--which already host the High Courts of Province 5 and 7--have started taking to the streets. EC officials worry that they may not be able to hold the polls if the protests flared up in the coming days. 

The EC has set February 7 as the date for the National Assembly polls. "So far, we remain determined to conduct the National Assembly elections in the places where we have set up our offices. But we may have to reconsider if protests continue and the government fails to provide adequate security," said EC Commissioner Ishwari Prasad Paudyal.

Members of provincial assemblies and chiefs and deputy chiefs of the 753 local units are to take part in the election of the National Assembly members. Disgruntled provincial assembly members and local unit chiefs and deputy chiefs have threatened not to take part in the National Assembly election and even to derail the polls if the government's decision over temporary provincial capitals is not changed.

The government has established high courts in Morang in Province 1, Dhanusha in Province 2, Lalitpur in Province 3, Kaski in Province 4, Dang in Province 5, Surkhet in Province 6 and Doti in Province 7.  The EC had established its liaison offices in these same districts for the National Assembly polls. 

But on Wednesday, the government fixed the temporary capitals of Province 3 in Makawanpur, Province 5 in Rupandehi and Province 7 in Kailali. Although there have not been any protests in Lalitpur, locals in Dang and Doti have intensified their protests, posing difficulties for the EC in holding the upper house election there. 

The EC has already asked the government to arrange foolproof security for the elections. Chief Election Commissioner Ayodhee Prasad Yadav said that the protests pose a security challenge for the upper house polls. 

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