EC worried over govt's dillydally in clearing provincial, federal poll hurdles

Published On: July 9, 2017 07:55 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, July 8: Amid delays in forming the Constituency Delineation Commission and clearing other legal hurdles, the Election Commission (EC) is worried whether this could affect elections of provincial and central parliaments within January 2018, the deadline set by the new constitution.

The government is yet to finalize some key electoral laws including the Provincial Election Member Act and House of Representatives Act and form the crucial Constituency Delineation Commission (CDC).

Election commissioners on July 1 had drawn the attention of Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba to promulgate laws related to provincial and central parliamentary elections and constitute CDC.

 But there has been no progress on the issue.

'The PM has assured us to form the commission and formulate the laws related to provincial and central parliamentary elections within five days. But it seems there has been no progress so far. We are planning to meet the prime minister yet again within a couple of days and remind him of this,' said Election Commissioner Ila Sharma.

Election commissioners say the delineation of electoral constituencies for provincial and central parliamentary elections is considered as the most challenging task for the upcoming elections. Currently, there are 240 electoral constituencies under the First-Past-the-Post electoral system. The Constitution has a provision to reduce the existing 240 electoral constituencies to 165 for central parliament and create 230 constituencies for provincial elections. They say fixing the number of election constituencies remains always a challenging task almost all leaders want gerrymandering to ensure their victory in the elections.

In 2013"s Constituent Assembly elections, the CDC headed by Justice Tahir Ali Ansari had to work three months to complete the task of delineating the electoral constituencies. Commissioners fear concluding the provincial and federal parliamentary elections may not get completed as stated in the constitution if the government fails to clear legal and administrative hurdles in time.

A team led by Commissioner Ila Sharma had drafted the bills related to the Acts on Member of House of Representatives, Provincial Assembly prior to the local elections. Both the bills have now been forwarded to the Ministry of Home Affairs. The law ministry needs to approve the bills before forwarding them to the Cabinet. But the ministries have not yet finalized the bills and forwarded them to the Cabinet.

On Thursday, the EC had summoned secretaries of MoHA and law ministry to expedite the law promulgations task. The election body had asked the government to promulgate laws by mid-July and form the CDC.

If everything goes as planned, the EC plans to conduct provincial elections by October-16.

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