EC to estimate the number of parties contesting polls

Published On: January 5, 2017 08:32 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, Jan 5: The Election Commission (EC) is preparing to ask its district offices to keep the records of the existing political parties at the local level and those wishing to contest in the elections with an aim of finalizing the status of the parties contesting in the upcoming local elections. 

Such kind of instructions, according to the EC, is going to be circulated to all 75 district election offices within a week to assess the exact number of parties willing to contest in the local elections. Election Commissioner Ila Sharma said the EC's district offices and political parties would be asked to update their status. The EC will also note down the names of the parties interested in contesting in the local elections in order to finalize the actual number of parties contesting in the elections. 

"Even as legal and other administrative hurdles are yet to be cleared from the government's side, it will be easier for us to begin preparations of local elections once we get the tentative number of parties contesting in the elections," said Commissioner Sharma, adding, "Basically, it will help us estimate the size of ballot papers and begin other preparations for the polls." 

The EC is worried whether the ballot papers cannot be printed by the existing printing machines of Janak Siksha Samagri Kendra from where the ballot papers are being printed till date.  Currently, 110 political parties are registered with the EC and the election body believes the ballot paper could be longer than three feet even if just 50 parties participate in the elections. 

The election body, which has already ruled out the possibility of holding local elections in April, says the polls could take place between May to June if the government comes up with a clear policy, timeframe and understanding among major political parties. Holding the polls between May and June, according to election commissioners, will depend upon how fast the government clears laws related to the local bodies and submits the report of Local Body Restructuring Commission, the key document required to conduct the elections.

Even though the LBRC has finalized the report after fixing the number of local governments, it has not yet been able to submit the report to Prime Ministers Pushpa Kamal Dahal due to his reluctance to receive it. 

PM Dahal is reportedly refusing to receive the report due to objection from agitating Madhes-based parties as the constitution has provision that the existing structures of local bodies will be dissolved immediately once the report is submitted. 

Opposing the commission's report, the Madhes-based parties have been demanding allocation of at least 47 percent of the total local bodies in 20 districts of southern plains on the basis of their population. 

The EC is in a fix to begin its pre-election preparations and formulate its polls plans due to the delay in making public the commission's report, clearing legal hurdles and fixing date for the elections. 

"Although we are facing problems to begin work, it will be easier to come up with an accurate plan once we get policies and the number of parties contesting in the elections," said Sharma. 

The constitutional deadline for completing the three sets of elections -- local, provincial and central --before January 2018 has put pressure to hold the local elections by June so that the remaining elections could be conducted between next April and December.

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