KATHMANDU, April 3: Police detained scores of protesters at Kantipath on Sunday, including Naya Shakti Nepal (NSN) Coordinator Baburam Bhattarai and Hisila Yami, after hundreds of people took to the streets to demonstrate against the Election Commission’s decision not to give election symbol to party having no representation in the legislature parliament.
Police said that former Prime Minister Bhattarai and other protesters were detained following clashes that ensued after the latter tried to enter the prohibited zone outside the Election Commission.
In a statement issued following the arrest, NSN denounced what the party calls “suppression and arrests on peaceful demonstration against basic human rights and democratic values”.
The party has said that it would continue to protest unless its concerns are addressed.
“We would like to inform that our protest will continue until Naya Shakti Nepal and other parties are granted their natural rights to the election symbol given by the Election Commission,” reads the statement signed by NSN spokesperson Khimlal Devkota.
The EC has so far refused to give election symbols to fringe parties without having any representation in the parliament citing the Local Level Election Act, 2017.
Local Level Election Act, 2017 requires that if political parties are to contest the local polls slated for May 14 under their respective symbols, they must have representation in the legislature parliament.
In the absence of a single symbol, parties without representation in the parliament will have to use different symbols in different districts.
Altogether, a total of 113 parties have been registered with the Election Commission while only 27 have representation in the parliament.
Smaller parties have opposed the move describing it as unconstitutional and a ploy to disenfranchise smaller parties. The parties have further claimed that the provision has infringed Article 269 (70) (71) of the constitution.
Though the police freed Bhattarai and other protester later on the day, the leaders refused to leave.
Bhattarai and other leaders have said that they would not move away from the premise of Nepal Police Club until the EC and other concerned authorities revise the LLEA, 2017 to ensure that all the parties contest the upcoming local polls under their respective election symbols.