KATHMANDU, Dec 8: Although they lauded the tabling of the constitution amendment bill in parliament as a 'positive development', Kathmandu-based foreign diplomats have concluded that the government's attempt to tie up the issue of elections with the amendment could blight the prospects for elections in the near future.
The diplomats, during a meeting called UN Resident Coordinator Valerie Julliand on Wednesday, cast doubts over the poll prospects, pointing out that the amendment bill has already vitiated the political environment
Sources said most diplomats argued that the ruling parties should not tie up the issue of elections with constitution amendment if they are committed to finding a way out of the stalemate in the wake of registration of the amendment bill in Parliament last week.
The government needs to hold three tiers of elections by January 2018 in order to fully implement the new Constitution. Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal and his cabinet colleagues have announced plans to hold local level elections by April.
The foreign envoys also concluded that the amendment bill is not very likely to be endorsed as there are sharp divisions within the ruling parties, while the various opposition parties are vehemently opposed to most of its provisions.
Although they agreed that the amendment bill should be viewed positively if it helps to resolve the demands of the agitating Madhes-based parties, the diplomats expressed doubts over its endorsement as the Rastriya Prajatantra Party recently announced it will not back it.
While the main opposition party CPN-UML is opposed to any such amendment, some lawmakers of both the ruling parties Nepali Congress and CPN (Maoist Center) have publicly announced they will also vote against, especially against the proposal to split the hill districts away from Province 5.
There are currently 27 resident ambassadors in Kathmandu. Most of them, including from the US, the UK, Germany and China, were present. A few, including the ambassador of India, were absent.
Although the plan was to issue a joint statement at the conclusion of the meeting, this was shelved after most envoys present argued that this was not the appropriate time, as the amendment bill itself had fallen into limbo.
There is a tradition of the UN resident coordinator holding a group meeting with Kathmandu-based top diplomats on various concurrent issues as deemed necessary. This is the first such group meeting hosted by Julliand after assuming office here in July.