Nepal poll panel calls off elections
Nepal's much-awaited Constituent Assembly (CA) election, scheduled for November 22, has been cancelled, the country's Election Commission announced on Friday. Chief Election Commissioner Bhoj Raj Pokhrel said that the EC had to abandon the election schedule following a directive issued by the interim government led by Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala.
The meeting of the council of ministers, which was held on Friday morning, directed the EC to cancel the CA election as the seven parties failed to reach consensus on how to conduct the elections. The CA election was suspended after the Maoists stuck to their demand for the announcement of a republic through the interim parliament and fully proportional representative election system while Koirala and his Nepali Congress were ranged against it.
"We have nothing to do at this situation," Pokhrel, said. Though the government directed the EC to suspend the election programmes, no new date for the CA election has been fixed as yet. The CA election was crucial for Nepal as the political leaders were to draft the political future of the country through a new constitution. Nepal's last general election was held back in 1999.
After the government's directive, Pokhrel convened an emergency meeting of the EC to discuss the unfolding of the electoral process. The EC was fully prepared for the election and Friday was the last date for filing of nominations. The decision to cancel the election is a major political setback for Nepal.
Earlier, the CA election was scheduled to be held in mid-June this year, and had to be postponed till November 22 as the EC was not fully prepared. Now, the leaders of the political parties are convinced that holding the CA election would not be possible before May next year as the northern part of the country would be experiencing extreme cold and snowfall for the next few months.
Meanwhile, Koirala had detailed consultations with Speaker Subhas Nemwang and summoned a special session of the interim legislature Parliament on October 11 to discuss the issue of declaring Nepal as a republic.
The three Left parties –Maoist, Communist Party of Nepal (Unity Centre) and the Leftist Front on September 28 had filed a "petition" at the Parliament Secretariat calling for a special session. The Prime Minister is constitutionally obliged to call the special session within 15 days of the registration of such a petition.