KATMANDU, Jan 20: As protests flare in different parts of the country against the government's decision to fix temporary provincial capitals ahead of the upper house elections, the Election Commission (EC) has urged the government to ensure foolproof security in the districts where the polling will take place.
The election body has warned that the poll scheduled might be affected if law and order is not maintained in those districts. "As January 24 has been set as the day for candidacy nominations and the security situation seems unfavorable, we urge the government, the political parties, the elected people's representatives, civil society leaders and media to help in creating an election-friendly environment," EC spokesperson Navaraj Dhakal has said in a press statement.
The EC had established its offices for the purpose of the upper house polls in places where the government has already set up its high courts. However, the government on Wednesday fixed the temporary capitals for Provinces 3, 5 and 7 in places other than where the high courts have been established.
Dismayed over the government's decision, locals in various places including Dang and Doti--which already host the High Courts of Provinces 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 flare up in the coming days.
The EC has set February 7 as the date for the National Assembly polls. The election body wants to relocate its offices if the government fails to secure the poll locations, but it does not wish to defer the election at any cost.
Members of provincial assemblies and the chiefs and deputy chiefs of the 753 local units are to take part in the election of the National Assembly. 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.
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.