It’s official: The Election Commission wants the government to announce local polls immediately

Amid the apparent reluctance of the government to hold the local polls on time, Nepal’s election management body has said that it is prepared to conduct the polls by mid-May.

NL Today

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Kathmandu: At a time when the government is humming and hawing about the local level elections despite repeated calls from constitutional experts and civil society for timely polls, the Election Commission, a constitutional election management body, has urged the government to announce the local polls immediately.

In a statement issued by the Election Commission on Tuesday, Commission Spokesperson and Joint Secretary Shaligram Sharma Poudel said that the commission is fully prepared to hold local polls within mid-May.

The term of the locally-elected representatives is expiring on May 20 this year. The Election Commission has proposed local elections for April 27 in case of single-phase and on April 27 and May 5 in case of two phases. The commission needs 120 days from the date of the announcement for election-related management and preparation.

The commission has requested the government to announce polls as proposed by the commission mentioning that it is continuously carrying out voter registration, review and determination of polling stations and other necessary preparations for holding the elections.

“The election management will become more complicated due to practical and technical reasons with delay in announcing polls date,” reads the statement. “The Election Commission requests the government to fix the date of the level elections as soon as possible in consultation with the commission as per the Local Elections Act.”

The government, however, does not seem keen on holding local polls immediately. The government and the ruling parties look bent on deferring the local polls arguing that the Election Act contradicts the constitution. They have been claiming that the Act should be amended first.

As the government is dithering over when to hold the local elections, experts have warned that deferring local polls can have consequences on federalism and can also invite constitutional crisis. Constitutional experts say that failure to hold the local elections on time can lead to a constitutional crisis in the country.