Coalition partners agree on local polls by mid-JuneRuling alliance suggests that the government take necessary measures, including law amendments, to conduct the elections.
The ruling coalition patterns on Saturday agreed on recommending local elections by mid-June.
This is around more than a month later than the Election Commission-proposed date(s).
The commission had recommended that the government declare local level elections for April 27, if they were to be held in a single phase, and on April 27 and May 5, if they were to be held in two phases.
“Today’s meeting of the five-party high-level political coordination committee suggested, via the prime minister, that local level polls be held within mid-June by making necessary arrangements of the legal provisions,” said Minister for Communications and Information Technology Gyanendra Bahadur Karki after the meeting. “The alliance has also suggested that the government make necessary preparations if the laws contradicting the constitution need to be amended.”
According to Karki, the government will soon declare the local poll date after consulting with the Election Commission.
“I would like to make it clear to you that the local level polls will be completed within mid-June,” said Karki.
Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre) chair Pushpa Kamla Dahal’s proposal to delay local polls and hold parliamentary elections early—in April-May—had stirred up the political pot in Nepal.
Prime Minister and Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba, however, was under pressure not to delay local elections within his own party.
At the second meeting of coalition partners on Saturday, Deuba proposed that local elections should not be delayed.
Earlier on Saturday morning, the ruling alliance failed to reach a consensus on when to hold local level elections.
At least two coalition partners—Maoist Centre) and CPN (Unified Socialist)—were demanding that local elections be delayed and parliamentary elections be held in April-May.
At the first meeting of the coalition partners, Deuba, who earlier was somewhat ready to delay the polls, insisted that elections should not be delayed, according to Baluwatar sources.
Maoist Centre chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal and CPN (Unified Socalist) chair Madhav Kumar Nepal were of the view that there should be an electoral alliance among coalition partners for local elections, just like in upper house polls, according to one ruling party leader.
After failing to reach consensus on when to hold local elections, top leaders of the ruling alliance had decided to sit again later on Saturday with constitutional and legal experts.
The ruling alliance’s exercise to delay local polls had met with widespread criticism, with the main opposition CPN-UML saying such a move would be against the rule o law and the principle of periodic elections which is fundamental to democracy.
Within the Nepali Congress, a faction was pressing Deuba not to delay local polls, saying the constitution does not envision a vacuum at the local level.
On Thursday, President Bidya Devi Bhandari urged Prime Minister Deuba to hold elections on time.