KATHMANDU, June 6: Softening its previous stance, the Election Commission (EC) has hinted at registering the newly formed Nepal Communist Party (NCP) without 33 percent women representation in the party's central organization as required by the law.
After holding a series of discussions with the leaders of the newly formed party, election officials have now reached a decision to register the party even without adequate women representation. The CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Center) merged into one in mid-May and the newly formed party then filed an application at the election body to get registered.
The election body had initially sought 33 percent women representation in the newly formed party before its official registration. But the election commissioners have now backtracked from their stance. They have reached the conclusion they should not halt the party registration even if they do not have 33 percent women representation in the party's jumbo central committee.
'It would have been better if the ruling party had named 33 percent women representatives in its ad-hoc central committee but the party registration process should not be halted just because of low women representation,” said an official involved in verifying the documents prior to the party's registration, adding, “But they must have 33 percent women representation after their upcoming general convention.”
An election commissioner, who requested not to be named, informed that a board meeting of the election body scheduled for Wednesday is likely to decide on the party's registration. The election officials will then officially register the party. “We will definitely ask them to increase their women representation in coming days but we are not in a position to halt the registration,” said the election commissioner, admitting the EC's failings in the past in strictly enforcing the inclusion law. “We made some mistakes in registering the RPP and RJPN ahead of elections, so we are not now in a position to take a stand.”
Leaders of the NCP are giving assurances of 33 percent women representation after the general convention.
Officials said the election body is waiting for the citizenship copies of some of the party leaders and their political documents on party objectives and programs before the registration.
The Party Registration Act requires at least 33 percent women representation in all the party committees. But the party has only 72 women in its 441-member central committee. Similarly, only two women have made it to the 45-member standing committee. The party's central secretariat is without any woman at all.
The then UML and Maoist Center had higher percentages of women in their higher ranks.
The decreasing space given to women in the ruling party's top ranks has been drawing widespread criticism inside and outside the party. Many have described it as a huge setback for the women's movement in a country which not long ago had women in the posts of president, speaker and chief justice all at the same time.