CA election not possible on Nov 22: EC

KATHMANDU, July 31: The Election Commission (EC) on Monday said it would not be able to hold the Constituent Assembly (CA) election on the stipulated date of November 22 following the government´s failure to amend election related laws and the Interim Constitution on time.

On Friday, Bhattarai led government forwarded two election related ordinances to the president, but they have not been endorsed. The ordinances were part of government efforts to meet EC demands to amend the existing election laws at the earliest so that the elections could be held on time.

“Legal and constitutional provisions for conducting the polls have not been put in place and beside this, political parties have not forged consensus to hold the election,” said Acting Chief Election Commissioner Neel Kantha Uprety while addressing a press conference on Monday afternoon. “We are not happy to announce our inability to hold the election on time once again.”

The CA election had been postponed two times in 2007 due to lack of political consensus. It was finally held in April 2008, almost two years after Gyanendra´s government was overthrown in a popular movement and the Maoists joined political mainstream.

Uprety told the press conference that despite EC´s efforts to conduct election on the announced date, there wasn´t sufficient time to prepare.

When asked why the constitutional body did not wait for some more days as the government had already forwarded election related ordinances to the president, Uprety said, “We waited [for legal and constitutional provisions] as long as possible but we cannot wait for more time to conduct CA polls on November 22.”

He also ruled out the possibility of conducting the polls on the time even if political parties reached consensus on the election and electoral laws were amended.

Making public the decision taken by the EC´s meeting, Spokesperson of the constitutional body Sharad Prasad Trital said constitutional and legal provisions are essential for legitimacy of polls and participation of political parties should be ensured for credibility of election.

“It appears that the government´s efforts to forge consensus and minimize differences among the political parties to hold free, fair and credible elections have not taken concrete shape,” he said.

Meanwhile, opposition leaders termed the EC´s announcement as another failure of the Baburam Bhattarai-led government.

“It is another evidence of the failure of the present government,” NC General Secretary Bimalendra Nidhi told Republica, adding, “The EC´s decision has exposed the ill intension of the government to announce a new election without arranging necessary legal and constitutional provisions.”

CPN-UML Spokesperson Pradeep Gyawali said Bhattarai had lost all moral ground to stay in the power following the EC´s decision. “Now, he (Bhattarai) should immediately step down and pave the way for the formation of national consensus government.”

He said it would be another mistake of the government, if it announced new polls date unilaterally.

But, prime minister´s political advisor Devendra Poudel said it was not just the failure of the government. “Other political parties should have supported the government to amend the Interim Constitution as the government could not have done so alone,” he added.

He maintained that political parties must arrive at a consensus on the new polls date and that there was no alternative to election. “The opposition parties should not make resignation of the prime minister as the bargaining chip for the polls,” Poudel said.GANI ANSARI,republica

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