KATHMANDU, August 26: Concerned over the delay in promulgating electoral laws, the Election Commission (EC) has asked the government to clear legal hurdles for the upcoming provincial and parliamentary elections without further delay.
The government had promised to ready all the laws related to provincial and parliamentary elections by mid-August. But two poll-related bills remain stuck at the parliamentary State Affairs Committee for the past several months.
The main opposition CPN-UML and other members of the SAC have accused the committee's chairman, Dil Bahadur Gharti, who is from the NC, of working in favor of his party instead of maintaining a neutral position. They allege that the committee's chairman has been stalling the bills in an attempt to incorporate controversial amendments proposed by NC leaders to allow those convicted of corruption to contest elections.
It may be noted that 18 lawmakers have proposed amendments to the bills related to the Election of the Members of House of Representatives and Election of the Members of Provincial Assembly demanding that corrupt leaders should be allowed to contest the elections three years after serving the sentence.
"It's been already late to get poll laws. That's why we have urged the government to provide election-related laws and report of the constituency delineation commission as soon as possible," said Election Commissioner Ishwari Prasad Paudyal.
In the absence of the election laws and report of constituency delineation commission, the election body has not been able to start preparations for the polls. Polling stations have not yet been fixed. The EC has asked the parties to inform about their current status and willingness to participate in the upcoming elections. Parties contesting the election under proportional representation [PR] system have been told to provide their details by Sunday.
"After this we can design ballot papers under PR category," said commissioner Paudel.
The election body has registered around 1.3 million voters during its one-month voter roll update campaign. As part of its preparations for the upcoming polls, officials are processing the voter details. "Our preparations are underway although the government has not cleared legal and bureaucratic hurdles," said Paudel.
A board meeting of the election body on Friday has concluded that the government's delay in providing poll-related bills and report of the Election Constituency Delineation Commission has already affected its preparatory work. Issuing an eight-point appeal to the government, the meeting has urged the government to complete all doable preparations on time.
Apart from the request to finalize poll-related laws, the election body has asked the government to keep the vehicles belonging to government offices in a ready position and necessary fuel. Similarly, it has urged the government to ensure road connectivity and offices for the chief returning officer and returning officers.
The election body has also urged the government to ensure fool-proof security, electricity, means of communications and internet across the country.