Former election body commissioners ask poll body to urgently settle ruling party legitimacy disputeThey have expressed concerns about the impact the indecision could have on the country’s political process and the credibility of the Election Commission.
Five former chief commissioners and commissioners of the Election Commission on Wednesday urged the election body to take early decision on the legitimacy dispute in the ruling Nepal Communist Party.
Issuing a statement on Wednesday, they warned that the delay in the decision will not only affect the country’s political process but also the credibility of the election body.
The commission has not taken any step forward on settling the dispute in the Nepal Communist Party even more than a month after the Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Madhav Kumar Nepal-led faction of the party registered an application seeking legitimacy to represent the party, claiming that it commands a comfortable majority in the Central Committee.
“We urge the commission to take an appropriate decision as per the existing laws and the past decision taken by the commission on similar disputes at the earliest considering the impact the indecision could have on the country's political process and the credibility of the commission,” reads the statement.
The statement was jointly issued by four former chief commissioners Surya Prasad Shrestha, Bhojraj Pokharel, Nil Kantha Uprety and Ayodhee Prasad Yadav and former commissioner Dolakh Bahadur Gurung.
On February 2, the faction had submitted the application as per Section 44 (1) of the Political Parties Act-2017 which states that a faction that claims the original party, stamp, flag and symbol needs to submit papers with all the documents to the commission along with the signatures of at least 40 percent Central Committee members within 30 days after dispute arises in the party.
After the claims are made as per this provision, the commission needs to seek a written response from the rival faction by serving a 15-day deadline as per the section 44 (2) of the Act.
The commission, however, has not sought the response from the Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli-led faction of the ruling party.
While the officer-bearers of the commission have been maintaining that they are still studying the matter, questions are being raised concerning the independence of the poll body.
Many have started to question if the commission is under the influence of the country’s executive despite being an independent constitutional body, as some officer-bearers in the commission were appointed as per the wish of Prime Minister Oli.
Pokharel, the former chief commissioner of the election body, told the Post that they were concerned over the questions being raised about the credibility and independence of the commission.
“It should take the decision as per the law and at the earliest, irrespective of what that decision may be. If one faction of the party is not pleased with the decision, then it can knock the door of the court,” Pokharel said.
He added that the commission’s failure to explain what was delaying the decision was creating doubt about the intention of the commission.
The Nepal Communist Party split following the decision of Prime Minister Oli to dissolve the lower house of Parliament on December 20 last year, a move that was overturned by the Supreme Court on February 23.
With the House reinstated, its session has been convened for Sunday.
Due to indecision of the commission to settle the dispute in the Nepal Communist Party, there is a confusion regarding the seating arrangement of the lawmakers of two rival factions—should they sit together as the ruling party or divided as oppositions.
“We cannot rule out untoward incidents if the rival factions sit together continuously on the same side of the aisle. The question is how long the political leadership could keep patience if the commission continues to delay taking its decision,” said Pokharel.
Officials at the poll body say that the commission is undecided as the Dahal-Nepal faction submitted the application seeking legitimacy after the submission deadline had expired.
But leaders of the Dahal-Nepal faction refuse to accept this claim.
They say the faction has submitted all the documents along with the signatures of the required number of the Central Committee members after the dispute arose on December 22 last year.
On January 24, the commission refused to give legitimacy to either faction arguing that both factions failed to follow the party statute in their decision making.
The leaders of the Dahal-Nepal faction claim that only after the commission concluded one process on January 24 which yielded no conclusive result, they took the action to settle the dispute as per Section 44 (1) of the Political Party Act, within the deadline set by the law.