Major parties agree on civic poll plan, date announcement likely on February 19

Kathmandu, February 10

Major political parties have agreed to announce the date for local level elections within February 19, 2017. As per the understanding, the first phase of local elections will take place within Baishakh-end, 2074 BS (May 14) or Jeth 1 (May 15).

According to sources, the government will announce the date for elections on February 18 or 19. The Election Commission has also said it will be able to conduct elections within Jeth (mid-May to mid-June) only if all election Bills are ready by then and if it gets the report of the Local Level Restructuring Commission by then.

Prime Minister and CPN-Maoist Centre Chair Prachanda, who is said to be preparing to announce poll-date, had talks with CPN-UML Chair KP Sharma Oli at the residence of Maoist leader Narayan Kaji Shrestha in Hattiban, Lalitpur. UML Vice-chair Bhim Rawal also attended the talks.

Before talks between Prachanda and Oli, Shrestha had held telephonic conversation with Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba.

Shrestha said: I am hopeful that the government will announce election date within February 19 and also submit the report of the Local Level Restructuring Commission.

The Election Commission is for conducting local level elections, in two phases at least. In keeping with this, there are preparations to conduct these elections by Baishakh-end or Jeth 1 (around mid-May).

It should be noted that PM Prachanda and NC President Deuba had pledged to announce the date for elections only after taking the Constitution amendment process to a logical conclusion.

But the Parliament meeting has been adjourned till Fagun 10 (February 21). Political leaders have said they had no option but to announce the date for elections in the middle of the amendment process because of the EC-given deadline (February 19).

The Election Commission told us it will not have enough time for poll preparations when we said we will announce the date for elections only after deciding on the Constitution amendment proposal, Shrestha said, adding: Keeping this in mind, we are trying to announce the poll date. We are not trying to withdraw or abort the amendment process.

Shrestha said they will continue talks with UML and other parties, adding: We will take the amendment process to a logical conclusion after talks with Madhesh-centric parties.

Recently, President Bidhya Bhandari has had talks with leaders of major parties and cautioned them about the polls. In the wake of these meetings, party leaders are holding intensive discussions regarding poll preparations.

On Thursday, President held separate talks with Maoist leader Shrestha and United Democratic Madheshi Front leader Mahantha Thakur. Shrestha subsequently held talks with an EC team, Rastriya Prajatantra Party Chair Kamal Thapa and Madheshi Janadhikar Forum (Democratic) leader Bijaya Gachchhadar. He also had separate discussions with PM Prachanda and UML Chair Oli.

Shrestha also facilitated Friday’s meeting between PM Prachanda and UML Chair Oli where UML Vice-Chair Bhim Rawal told Oli to show his commitment to polls by announcing the poll date without delay.

Talking to journalists after the meeting, Rawal concluded that Prime Minister made no clear commitment when it came to announcing poll date and conducting elections.

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