Nepal sets date for polls to local bodies, Madhesis plan protests
The Nepal government decided to discuss the long-awaited Constitution amendment bill in Parliament in an attempt to appease the Madhes-based parties, which have already rejected the measureworld Updated: Feb 20, 2017 22:00 IST
The Nepal government on Monday announced elections to local bodies would be held on May 14 despite opposition from Madhes-based political parties, which said they would launch protests.
A Cabinet meeting decided on Monday evening that the polls would be held according to the recommendations of the Election Commission.
Within an hour of the government declaring the date for the polls, a meeting of Madhes-based parties rejected the elections and decided to launch a programme of protests from Tuesday.
The government decided to hold the polls in a single phase on May 14, information minister Surendra Karki said after the Cabinet meeting. The government instructed the finance ministry to release funds for the polls, he added.
The government also decided to discuss the long-awaited Constitution amendment bill in Parliament in an attempt to appease the Madhes-based parties, which have already rejected the measure.
The Madhes-based parties will conduct a torch rally on Tuesday and organise a strike in the southern plains bordering India on Wednesday. The parties decided they would oppose the elections being held before a political deal to address their demands.
“The country is in election mode,” Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda” told journalists on Monday evening. “The entire country is moving towards the elections.
“To address the demands of Madhes-based parties, we have decided to move (ahead) with the constitution amendment proposal that is taking place in the House from Tuesday,” he said.
According to constitutional obligations, Nepal has to hold elections to local bodies and for the provincial and central assemblies by February 2018. The last local elections were held in May 1997.
After the tenure of the local bodies ended in 1997, then Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba failed to conduct fresh elections in 2002 because of the threat from Maoist rebels and his own political ambitions, which ultimately led to his dismissal by the King.
Elections held in 2005 under the direct rule of King Gyanendra were widely boycotted by major political parties.