Madhesis to organise protests in Nepal’s Terai to stall elections

The Madhesi groups believe the Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba government has failed to address their grievances and is bent on holding the polls without sorting out their demands.     

world Updated: Jun 14, 2017 22:08 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Kathmandu
Nepal local body elections,Madhesi parties,Madhesi protests against elections
Activists take part in a rally to support ethnic Madhesis during a demonstration in Kathmandu.(Reuters File)

Madhes-based parties have decided to launch protests against planned local body elections in Nepal’s southern plains after several rounds of talks between the government and agitating parties failed to reach an agreement on amending the country’s new Constitution.

The Rastriya Janata Party Nepal (RJPN), an alliance of seven Madhes-based groups, called for a four-day shutdown from Tuesday. The RJPN has announced it will not only boycott the elections but obstruct it.

In Saptari district, one of the hotspots in the Terai, RJPN cadres briefly detained 50 junior election officials on Wednesday. RJPN cadres were also injured in scuffles and protests reported from several districts.

Since the promulgation of the Constitution in September 2015, some 60 people have died in the southern Terai region in violent demonstrations.

The latest negotiations failed when the government did not agree to amend the Constitution to make it Madhes-friendly and inclusive. The Madhes-based parties have now opted for a two-pronged strategy of simultaneous talks and protests.

Talks on Wednesday between major political parties and the RJPN did not yield any results.

The Madhesi groups believe the new government led by Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba has failed to address their grievances and is bent on holding the polls on June 28 without sorting out the demands of the Madhesi people.

The government, however, plans to defer polls in provinces no 2 and 5 to meet the demands of Madhes-based parties. “Elections can be postponed in the 11 Terai districts, “ said deputy prime minister Bijaya Kumar Gachhadar.

The Election Commission has expressed concern about security for the second phase of elections to local government bodies and asked the government to make foolproof arrangements, said chief election commissioner Ayodhee Prasad Yadav.

Deuba has called a meeting of major parties to solicit their views on whether elections can be postponed for some time so that the government can address the demands of the Madhesis. Media reports said the government has also started mobilising the army to prevent possible confrontations.

First Published: Jun 14, 2017 22:08 IST