EC likely to extend statute amendment deadline

KATHMANDU, July 22: The Election Commission (EC) is likely to extend the deadline for removing legal and constitutional difficulties in conducting the Constituent Assembly (CA) polls on November 22.

Talking to Republica, top EC officials said the constitutional body was not rigid on deadline. Earlier, EC had set July 22 deadline for amending the electoral laws and the interim constitution. Stating that EC would not be a barrier in conducting CA polls, Acting Election Commissioner Ayodhi Prasad Yadav said, “We can reconsider the deadline set earlier, if political parties forge consensus on the issue of holding CA election.”

An EC official told Republica that the July 22 deadline was not “engraved in stone”. “If the government has been making efforts to amend the electoral laws, EC will have no problem in waiting for another seven to 10 days,” said the official, seeking anonymity. He, however, said EC would hold discussions on the progress made by the government before taking any decision on extension of the deadline.

According to sources, the government is likely to urge EC to extend its deadline for a week to amend the electoral laws.

Secretary at EC Shankar Prasad Koirala said, “The government has not informed us of its plan to seek deadline extension.” Koirala, however, stated that during a recent meeting with EC officials, the government had maintained that it would need some more time to forge consensus.

EC had had formally asked the government to amend the interim constitution, the Constituent Assembly Act, the Election Commission Act and the Voters Roll Act last month.

EC has argued that the existing constitutional and legal provisions on CA election cannot be applied for the November 22 poll.

EC officials have said they need at least 120 days to make preparations for the polls.

In a meeting called by EC recently, the opposition parties including the Nepali Congress (NC) and the CPN-UML had maintained that the preparations for the elections were meaningless and ruled out possibility of conducting the polls on November 22 under any circumstances.GANI ANSARI,republica

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