Gathabandhan to take part in two-phase local electionsThe ruling coalition and the Sanghiya Gathabandhan have agreed to hold the local level elections in two phases—the first on May 14 as scheduled earlier.
The ruling coalition and the Sanghiya Gathabandhan have agreed to hold the local level elections in two phases—the first on May 14 as scheduled earlier.
After a series of negotiations, the agitating Sanghiya Gathabandhan, which comprises the newly formed Rastriya Janata Party, the Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum Nepal and some Janajati forces, finally agreed on Saturday evening to join the local level elections as the ruling parties agreed to address their concerns through constitutional amendments.
The meeting held twice at Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s official residence in Baluwatar for over five hours culminated in a gentlemen’s agreement, paving the way for the Gathabandhan to participate in the local polls that it had announced not only to boycott but also to disrupt.
Minister for Physical Planning and Transportation Ramesh Lekhak confirmed the agreement to hold the local level election in two phases. The second date would be finalised in consultation with the Election Commission.
Though RJP leaders said that all the protest programmes announced earlier would be withdrawn immediately, SSFN Co-chairman Rajendra Shrestha claimed that the Gathabandhan would withdraw the agitation only after the Cabinet endorses Saturday’s agreement on Sunday.
Shrestha said the Cabinet would take decisions on constitution amendment and the ways to address other concerns of the Gathabandhan.
According to PM Dahal’s secretariat, the meeting also decided to increase the number of electoral constituencies and the local federal units in the Tarai on the basis of population. The issue of provincial boundaries would be settled by forming a powerful federal commission while the recommendations of the Language Commission would be enlisted in the schedule of the constitution. The citizenship provisions of the constitution would be replaced with the proposal registered in Parliament. The government would fast-track endorsement of the statute revision proposal from Parliament.
All the deals reached with the Gathabandhan would be endorsed by Sunday’s Cabinet meeting.
RJP leader Laxman Lal Karna termed the negotiations as “decisive”.
Talking to reporters after the meeting, NC leader Krishna Prasad Sitaula said the government would invite RJP Chairman Mahantha Thakur and SSFN Chairman Upendra Yadav, who are out of the Valley, to formalise the deal on Sunday.
On Saturday morning, PM Dahal held a discussion with Chief Election Commissioner Ayodhee Prasad Yadav on the possibility of conducting the polls in two phases.
Karna said the Gathabandhan would withdraw all the protests as soon as the government decides to endorse the agreements.
Gathabandhan leaders had proposed the second phase of polls in provinces 1, 2, 5 and 7, to be held after a month. The leaders have tentatively agreed for June 14 as the second date. Leaders claimed that voting would take place on May 14 only in provinces 3, 4 and 6.
Another RJP leader, Anil Jha said Saturday’s agreement was “verbal”. The leaders of the protesting parties would respond officially only after the Cabinet decision.
Commenting on the developments, deputy leader of CPN-UML Parliamentary Party Subas Nembang said the main opposition party was not consulted in course of the agreements. Nembang said he had learnt about the deal from the media.
“How could the second phase of elections be held on June 14, after introducing the new fiscal budget?” Nembang asked, pointing to the election code of conduct for the government to conduct the elections after the budget, which has to be presented on May 29.
- First phase of polls in provinces 3, 4 and 6 on May 14
- Second phase of vote in provinces 1, 2, 5 and 7 possibly on June 14
- Local federal units to be added in some districts of the Tarai in consultation with the EC
- Federal Commission to decide on provincial boundaries
- National languages to be listed in the schedule of the constitution as
recommended by the Language Commission
- Sanghiya Gathabandhan to withdraw all the protests