RPP to EC: Ensure voting rights of Nepalis living abroad

Published On: November 23, 2018 06:00 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, Nov 23: The Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) on Thursday submitted a memorandum to the Election Commission (EC), demanding that the election body begin the work for ensuring the right of Nepalis living abroad to vote in the upcoming elections.

The party said that ensuring the migrant workers' right to vote in the next election won't be possible if the tasks related to law formulation, resource management and other preparations are not begun right now.

As many as four million Nepalis staying outside Nepal for employment, education or business have been deprived of the right to vote in elections in the country.

In March this year, the Supreme Court (SC) ordered the government to ensure the voting right of Nepalis living abroad. As of now, however, the authorities concerned — EC and the government — have done nothing for the implementation of the SC order.

There has been no progress in the efforts begun ahead of the 2008 Constituent Assembly elections to allow Nepalis living in 110 different countries to vote in elections held in Nepal.

With a view to enabling Nepalis working, pursuing higher studies or doing business abroad to cast their votes, the EC had begun discussions before 2008, but to no avail.

A high-level team headed by the then election commissioner Ram Bhakta PV Thakur visited the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Qatar in 2012 to study the feasibility of voter registration and voting by Nepalis in those countries. The team, which included senior officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Labor and the EC, gave their suggestions about the possibility of registering the scattered migrant workers and enabling them to vote.

During the team's visit, Saudi Arabia and Qatar had agreed to support voter registration and voting arrangements for Nepali workers there. But no concrete action was taken by the government here or the election body, according to the officials concerned.

Till date, the government has issued permission to more than 3.8 million Nepalis to work abroad. This number does not include Nepalis in India. As many as three million of them are said to work in India as seasonal laborers, according to experts on migration.

Despite widespread demands by stakeholders to address the issue, no further steps have been taken. The term of the nation-wide voter registration campaign expires next week and the newly endorsed Voter Registration Act is silent regarding voting by the Nepali diaspora.

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