Begins talk on holding local elections
KATHMANDU, DEC 26 -
Following the CIAA directives to scrap all-party mechanisms formed to mobilise local resources, the government has intensified consultations on holding local elections. Village Development Committees, District Development Commi-ttees and municipalities have been without elected people’s representatives to steer them for over a decade in the absence of elections.
On Sunday, Minister for Local Development Top Bahadur Rayamajhi deliberated with Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai in Baluwatar on holding local elections. Following the CIAA directives, there is no alternative to dissolving the all-party mechanisms, Minister Rayamajhi said, adding that holding local election would be the best option to address the resultant vacuum.
Rayamajhi said the ministry will announce the dissolution shortly. “We are discussing how to handle the issue and will take a decision in a few days,” he added. If the government dissolves the mechanisms, over 4,000 local bodies will be without political leadership. The anti-graft body on Friday directed the ministry and the government to dissolve the “illegally-formed” mechanisms immediately after a conclusion that they had misused development funds and promoted corruption. In the directives,
the CIAA has asked the government to either elect people’s representatives democratically or form new mechanisms defining their roles, responsibilities and duties.
The present mechanisms, formed some four years ago, have representatives of 25 political parties that form the Constituent Assembly. Some political parties have also demanded local elections. “UML’s first priority is local elections. If the government announces it, we are ready to compete,” said CPN-UML leader and former Local Development Minister Urmila Aryal. During her tenure, Aryal had proposed People’s Representative Councils, instead of the mechanisms, but political parties had turned down her proposal in favour of fresh elections.
We are prepared: EC
Acting Chief Election Commissioner Neel Kantha Uprety has said the Election Commission is ready to hold local elections if the political parties want it. “We have realised the absence of local elections but it depends on them [political parties and the government],” Uprety said. “If they forge political commitment, we are ready except that we have some preparations to make.” Stating that the Election Commission (EC) needs a minimum of 90 days to prepare for the poll, Uprety said election legislation and voter registration have to be accomplished before the period. “Given the context, mid-March or mid-September is the right time for the election,” said Uprety. The EC has been carrying out a digital voter registration campaign across the country.