Experts against increasing number of local units in tarai

Published On: May 18, 2017 01:30 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, May 18: Experts and civil society members have urged the Election Commission (EC) not to increase the number of local units in southern plains of the country and revise federal boundaries ahead of the second phase of local elections scheduled for June 14, arguing that such moves will be against the established practices and election laws. 

Issuing a joint statement, the experts on election and legal affairs, former bureaucrats and civil society members on Wednesday said the increase in the number of local units at a time when the first round of elections has already taken place in 283 local units in the hilly region will be against the constitution and unfair to the voters who have already voted. They have urged the government to fully abide by the election code of conduct and not to make any decisions that would influence the second round of elections. 

"Since the constitution amendment and announcement of new programs influence voters, such acts should be postponed for now," states the joint press statement.

The suggestions come from experts at a time when the government has formed a committee to increase the number of local units in the tarai districts while the constitution amendment bill tabled at the parliament for revising the federal boundaries is still pending. The ruling parties are pushing for endorsing the bill before the elections. 

The experts said since the elections for rural municipalities and municipalities have already begun, increment of local units and revising the federal boundaries would be inappropriate and against the legal provisions. They argued that the government has no right to increase the number of local units or revise the federal boundaries. 

"The constitution has not granted any rights to the government to decide on the numbers and borders," reads the statement. 

Citing the provisions of an act related to fixation of ward-2073, the experts said that the government can change the number of local units and borders only after two-thirds majority of the local unit decides to do so and such recommendation should happen a year before the election. 

"Change in the number of local units and borders without the recommendation of the rural municipality and municipality is an act against the law," states the press statement. 

They also argued that the decision to increase the number of local units and borers when half of the population has already voted will be unjust to the voters who cast their votes in the first round of elections and against the established principles of equality. 

"Increasing the number of local units without scientific study will be an additional economic burden to the state," they said. 

The experts have also opposed the proposal to curtail the rights of chief and deputy chief of local units to participate in Electoral College while electing national assembly. 

Former chief of the Association of District Development Committee Krishna Prasad Sapkota, journalist Kanak Mani Dixit, former chief election commissioner Neel Kantha Uprety, former minister Nilambar Acharya, chairman of disbanded Local Level Restructuring Commission Balananda Poudel, local governance expert Mukti Rijal, legal expert  Bipin Adhikari, former Election Commission chief Surya Prasad Shrestha and local governance expert Hikmat Bista have jointly issued the statement.

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