With less than 70 days left for local poll, debate over an election related bill surfaces

Published On: March 6, 2017 03:29 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, March 5: With less than 70 days left for the local poll, a debate has surfaced among various ministries whether the poll can be conducted without passing a law to fix the numbers of ward in the local level or not.

According to Article 56, Clause 4 of the constitution, the number of wards in village and municipality should be provisioned in the federal law. The article states that there shall be village institutions, municipalities and district assemblies under the local level. The number of wards in a village institution and municipality shall be as provisioned in the federal law.

But the government is still in confusion whether the poll can be conducted without formulating the law as the deadline to hold the local poll is fast approaching.

Though the draft of the bill has been prepared, responsible government ministries haven't finalized the bill due to the delay in finalizing the number of local units in the new setup.

Some legal experts claim that the government must enact the law, as it is mandatory according to the new constitution. The report of the local level restructuring commission (LLRC) suggesting the number of wards across the country cannot be taken as law, said Deputy Spokesperson at the Ministry of Law Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Hum Prasad KC. He further said that the ministry has entrusted the Federal Affairs and Local Development Ministry with the responsibility of drafting the bill for the purpose.

Asked about the progress on the draft, Spokesperson at the Local Development Ministry Keader Nath Sharma said that the ministry has already forwarded the draft to the Ministry of Law for review.

“We have forwarded the draft of Local Level Governance Act to the Ministry of Law for review. We are hopeful that it will be registered in the parliament immediately after the finalization of the number of local units,” Sharma told Republica.

As endorsement of the bill will take over a month, both Ministry of Law and Ministry of Local Development in a fix over whether the local poll can be held without endorsement of the bill or not.

Former Minister for Law Agni Kharel said that the ministry had expedited formulation of new laws during his tenure.

He further said that the government should focus on formulating three new laws for election of the national assembly, president and vice president and electoral constituency prior to the local poll.

“The local poll result may trigger new debate over the weightage of vote by the chief and deputy of village and municipal bodies may affect the election of national assembly members as well as the president and vice president. Thus, the government should endorse such inter-related bills prior to the local poll,” said Kharel.

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