Local poll law moves forwardAlmost five months after the Election Commission forwarded a draft law to amend the Local Bodies (Election Procedure) Act, the government has begun the process to endorse the legislation, a move that will clear the way for holding the long overdue local polls.
Almost five months after the Election Commission forwarded a draft law to amend the Local Bodies (Election Procedure) Act, the government has begun the process to endorse the legislation, a move that will clear the way for holding the long overdue local polls.
A Cabinet meeting on Friday decided to submit the draft to the Bill Committee under the Prime Minister’s Office for final look before tabling it at the Legislature-Parliament. Government Spokesperson Sherdhan Rai said the Cabinet took the decision after consulting with the concerned ministries.
The election body has proposed that the parties field at least 50 percent female candidates in the local polls. If things go as proposed, at least 50 percent women will contest for posts in Village Development Committees (VDC), municipalities and District Development Committees (DDC).
The EC estimates that the proposed amendment, once in effect, will bring in around 100,000 women in leadership positions at the local level. Each ward committee of the VDC comprises five members and the proposed reforms require at least two of them to be women while key positions must be allotted for women alternatively with males.
Election officials say the legal hurdles for the local polls will be removed once the President promulgates the new law following parliamentary endorsement.
Shortly after the adaptation of the new constitution, the government had forwarded the law to the Home Ministry, asking it to go through it and table it in the Cabinet.
The bill, however, had been pending for more than five months as a result of the government’s lack of priority for holding the local polls even as the local bodies have been without elected people’s representatives for at least 13 years.
“We had forwarded the law expecting a swift decision but it took months to complete the process. The commission can still conduct the local election if Parliament endorses the bill on time and we have at least 120 days before monsoon,” said the EC Secretary Sharada Prasad Trital.
In the 1997 local polls, there was a provision to elect a woman from each ward but no criteria for female representation were set.
The new law will also give voters the “no vote” right if they dislike every one of the candidates.
The EC has been recommending that the government arrange for the local polls at the earliest arguing that it may not meet the constitutional obligation of completing federal parliamentary elections by January 2018 if the local polls are delayed further. The new constitution requires new parliament to be elected by January 2018.