Lack of consensus a major threat to local polls: Ex-Nepal CEC

By Binod Prasad Adhikari

Kathmandu [Nepal], Mar.3 (ANI): With about 70 days left for the holding local polls, the widening gap between political parties is posing a grave threat to them being held, former chief election commissioner Neel Kantha Upreti has warned.

In an interview with ANI, Upreti called on all political parties to arrive at a consensus to ensure the success of the mid- May local elections.

"Democratic political parties should participate in the elections. So, I would have thought that by this time, not only this time, but before this time, I should say, disputes, dissatisfactions of the political parties, those who are representing in parliament, must have been resolved and the date should have been announced after their acceptance of the Constitution and the amendment bill which has been now tabled in parliament. So, I think, the major obstacle of the election of mid- May is the consensus of the political parties and all parties should participate in the local elections," Upreti said.

"I think the government, the political parties and those parties who are still not satisfied with the process and also not satisfied with the Constitution should sit together, resolve and find out the point of compromise because, someone has to give something and other side also should give something in order to come to the point," he added.

The government led by Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, last month declared May 14 as the date for the holding local elections which ultimately has pushed the agitating Madhesh-based parties towards protest.

"Democracy is an important thing, more than anything else for the country. So, all should participate and those who are not democratic, I may not like to speak on them. We Nepali citizend are worried about this. It should have been resolved because it has been more than 16 months that we have had the Constitution by the people of this country. So, the first and the foremost challenge is the parties agreement for the electoral process and the garnering of political consensus," said Upreti.

Nepal has operated in a vacuum without local bodies for nearly two decades. Upreti said the timing of the elections is questionable.

"The timing itself is challenging because we have very limited time. Election Commission has asked for 120 days minimum for the holding of local elections, but then, they accepted it for less than 90 days. The country should be working on the war footing if the election has to be conducted on the given date. So, time is an obstacle and a challenge for preparing for the elections," he added.

The election commission is yet to receive the Local Level Restructuring Committee (LLRC)'s report on the basis of which it will hold the election.

Upreti said, "The LLRC report is a fundamental document for preparation and implementation of election and the dispute regarding the LLRC report needs to be resolved as fast as possible by the government and the political parties so that the process of preparing for elections can proceed with no problem. There is a question also about the legality of revisiting the LLRC report by the government or the executive because the commission is responsible for making necessary amendments where needed."

Campaign for the polls has started and a code of conduct has also been issued and announced. (ANI)