Experts say 2-phase polls will be against electoral principles

Published On: April 28, 2017 07:26 AM NPT

KATHMANDU, April 28: Former chief election commissioners (CECs) and legal and local governance experts have urged the Election Commission (EC) to conduct the election across the country on May 14 as announced by the government, arguing that deciding to conduct the polls in two phases in the last hour will compromise the fundamental principles of elections. 

Submitting a memorandum to Chief Election Commissioner Ayodhee Prasad Yadav on Thursday, they said agreeing to conduct the elections in phases against the previous announcement to hold them in one go will be against the set standards and election code of conduct. 'The election should take place on May 14 as announced earlier,' they said in the five-point memorandum.

Half a dozen of legal and local governance experts have drawn the EC"s attention toward the matter.

Contrary to the previous announcement to conduct the elections across the country in one go, the government has now decided to hold elections in provinces 3, 4 and 6 on May 14 in the first phase and in provinces 1, 2, 5 and 7 on June 14 in the second phase. The government is also preparing to bring the annual budget between the elections. The main opposition, CPN-UML, and some experts have claimed that the government is trying to introduce a "populist budget" to influence the elections.

Arguing that a month-long gap between the two phases of elections could be counterproductive for the EC, the experts suggested completing the elections before the Budget Day. Since the constitution has set Jeth 15 (May 29) as the Budget Day, the government is under pressure to bring the budget. The experts, however, have warned that bringing the budget between two elections would be against the established electoral principles and international community may raise question over the credibility and impartiality of the elections.

Former CEC Neel Kantha Uprety and Surya Prasad Shrestha, legal experts Bipin Adhikari, Nilamber Acharya and local governance experts Krishna Prasad Sapkota, Mukti Rijal, Shyam Bhurtel and Hikmat Bista had reached the EC headquarters demanding that the elections should be conducted across the country on May 14.

'Since amendment or revision of the constitution made for political gain or loss may raise question over the impartiality of the election body, EC should play an effective role in implementing the election code of conduct,' states the memorandum adding, 'Implementation of the election code is mandatory, not optional.'

In response, the election commissioners said they have no other alternatives but to follow the government's decision, saying that the new constitution and laws have hugely curtailed the EC"s rights.

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