KATHMANDU, May 29: Four days before nominations day for the second round local elections scheduled for June 14, the government has re-scheduled polls to June 23 in an effort to bring the Madhes-based parties on board.
A cabinet meeting on Monday proposed June 23 as the fresh date for second phase local elections. The poll deferral by 10 days comes at a time when the Election Commission (EC) has tentatively completed its preparations for the second round as scheduled.
“The government has decided to re-schedule the polls as it believes that the RJPN will also participate. Also, we have decided to amend the election law in order to ease their participation,” said Minister for Physical Infrastructure and Transport Ramesh Lekhak.
The EC said it takes the government’s decision positively although it is yet to receive the decision formally. “Obviously, some internal and weather-related problems pose some challenges. But we take it positively if a consensus is forged among all parties, making it easier to hold the elections” said Chief Election Commissioner Ayodhee Prasad Yadav.
According to election chief Yadav, the poll will become more expensive as poll workers and security personnel will have to remain on the ground longer. He also expressed concern that the rains would affect the polls as these are being deferred again. Initially, the government had decided to hold local elections across the country at one go on May 14. But the government later decided to go for two phases--first phase on May 14 and the second a month later.
The Madhes-centric parties, and mainly RJPN which was formed our of six fringe parties just ahead of the local elections, have been threatening to obstruct the polls. Although the key demands put forth by RJPN -- increase in the number of local units and endorsement of the constitution amendment bill - remain unmet, the government believes they will participate in the elections.
To bring poll-opposing parties on board, the government has decided to amend the Local Level Election Act 2073. Article 18 of the Act states that all parties should fix the names, positions and signatures of party officials responsible for deciding the candidacies of the parties concerned 15 days before nominations.
An EC official said the 15 days deadline will be reduced through the amendment. “Since RJPN has refused to fix the party leaders responsible for determining the candidates and other details there was no chance of including the party in the election,” said the official. “But now they can participate like the other parties.”
As per the existing election calendar, June 2 was scheduled as the date for candidacy registrations.
The EC, which has already conducted the first round local elections in the 283 local units of 34 districts, is holding second phase local elections in the 461 local units of Provinces 1, 2, 5 and 7.
The EC has already printed the ballot papers, voter ID cards and voter rolls and poll officers have been deployed on the ground. Also, the offices of the chief returning officers have been set up at the 41 district headquarters.