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Nepal: Elections by June Unlikely: Update No. 280

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Note No. 682                                  Dated 13-May-2013

By Dr. S. Chandrasekharan

It is almost impossible for  the newly appointed CEC Neelkanth Uprety to conduct the CA Elections before June end this year.  For this, the reasons are many but the primary reason is the lack of sincerity and cooperation from the political parties, particularly the four major ones.

On the developments in Nepal, there is an excellent and exhaustive weekly account of the events in the Kathmandu Metro up to the middle of April by Siddhi B. Ranjitkar and the events that occurred during that period is therefore not being repeated.

As mentioned by the CEC, the Government will have to take an “intellectual” and a “realistic decision” before arriving at the date for the elections.  So far there has been no official communication about the postponement of CA elections to November from June but all indications are that this will be held between November 15 and November 21.

Despite the best of efforts of the Election Commission, the citizenship certificate distribution, voter registration, redefining the constituencies and drawing up necessary rules and regulations have not yet been completed.  Even the Party registration has just begun with only eleven parties renewing their registration.  The Maoist faction led by Mohan Baidya continues to be recalcitrant and their position as of now is to boycott the elections.  More serious, is their attempt to disrupt physically the voter registration and this is delaying the completion further.  So far the Police have acted with restraint with the Maoists cadres but at some point they will have to take stern action to ensure the completion.

Besides the Maoist faction led by Mohan Baidya two other groups- the Madhesi Adhikar Forum led by Upendra Yadav and the Limbuwan groups are also opposed to the elections to the interim CA which is necessary now.   It is expected sooner or later, the last two groups may join the fray, but the Maoists may continue to be adamant and obstructive.  It is said that this faction has not surrendered the weapons that were allowed for their personal security earlier during the cease-fire.  By and large as I see it, the Baidya’s faction will continue to be of nuisance value, if only the administration deals with a firm hand particularly those who resort to violence.

Constitutional appointments have more or less been completed, but the appointment of Lokman Singh Karki (former Chief Secretary) as the chief of the Central Commission for investigation of Abuse and Authority has come in for severe condemnation and protests.  The students particularly those from the Nepali Congress have taken to the streets.  It is not clear why the High level political committee (HLPM) recommended Karki’s name when his background was known to all.  He is said to have been primarily responsible for suppressing the Jana Andolan II and has also been implicated in corruption charges!   The irony is that his name was recommended by Dahal himself in the HLPM and the Nepali Congress representative Paudel did not object to this recommendation!

One good development has been the final integration of  ex PLA combatants.  One colonel, two Lt. Colonels and 67 other officers have been taken into the newly formed directorate of the Nepal Army.

While on the same subject, the Supreme Court on 26th April finally nullified the orders of Bhattarai government in sanctioning two lakhs (two hundred thousand) to each of the disqualified combatants of the PLA.  This was the result of the case filed by the “Democratic Lawyer’s Association” and 4008 ex combatants are involved. It would have been better if no case had been filed as the current order of the Supreme Court will only drive these ex combatants to the arms of the Baidya Group!

It is interesting that Dahal in one of the meetings (Gulariya on 22nd April) said that the UML is finished as a party as many leaders of the party have already defected to his party.  I had maintained for a long time that the first objective of the Maoists while joining the mainstream was to destroy the left oriented UML and they seem to be succeeding.  The UML unfortunately has taken a very rigid stand on the question of identity-based provinces in the federal setup and this had resulted in an exodus of many from the indigenous and janajathi communities.  In their recent politburo meeting they had decided to have an alliance with other democratic forces. 

It will be an ideal situation if the UML joins hands with the Nepali Congress in the coming elections.  But the Nepali Congress is itself not sure of its position on vital issues of federalism (identity based or not), empowering marginalised groups and the concerns raised by indigenous and janajathi parties ( Kamal Dev Bhattarai).   The party though outwardly appears to be one, is still functioning as two groups - Deuba’s and Koirala’s and the merger is seen as a “glued ceramic plate” of two groups.  Worse, the party has still not realised the importance and power of the Madhesis in any future setup and the Madhesis are still marginalised by the party. The Maoists have stolen a march over them in getting Madhesi group led by Gachhadaar and this is going to have a definite impact in the coming elections.  It is time the senior leaders of the Nepali Congress give place to the younger and more active ones.  The party stands a good chance of making a decisive show in the coming elections, if only they change their ways at least now.

There appears to be a fundamental flaw in the approach of the four main political parties that had agreed to get a “neutral” administrator to conduct the elections in the absence of a consensus.  Instead of concentrating in preparing for the elections, they have taken upon themselves to oversee the functioning of the government headed by Mr. Regmi.  This is unfortunate.  Another mistake is their failure to take all the other smaller political parties in their deliberations and as expected the four are indulging in the “give and take” and this for example has resulted in the controversial appointment of Karki as CIAA.  It is time they leave the Interim Council headed by former Chief Justice Khil Raj Regmi alone to do as it likes to ensure a free and fair election.

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