Federal Alliance announces strike against local polls in Nepal

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Kathmandu, April 16 (IANS) The Federal Alliance (Sanghiya Gathabandhan) on Sunday announced a series of protest programmes, beginning from April 18, against the local-level elections scheduled for next month.

At a time when Nepal is on the verge of holding local elections on May 14, the step taken by the Federal Alliance — an alliance of Madhesi and Janjati parties — added further complications in holding the three-tier elections — local, provincial and central — within another 10 months.

Political voices are divided in Nepal whether to include the Madhesi parties in the polls or not. The main opposition Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxists-Leninists) [CPN-UML] is vehemently opposing bringing the Morcha on board if it does not agree to join.

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The two major ruling parties, Nepali Congress and CPN (Maoist Centre), are opting for the middle path, saying that Madhesi participation in the polls is a must and they should be included.

The ruling parties added that they will not take part in the elections without amending the Constitution, towards which end the government has registered an amending bill in Parliament in order to address the grievances of the agitating parties.

The Alliance and Madhes-based parties have been demanding amendment to various provisions in the Constitution like citizenship, language, proportional representation of various marginalised communities in various state entities, and change in federal boundaries, among others.

But the government has been insisting that it lacks a two-thirds majority in parliament — required for approving a constitutional amendment — and has urged the alliance and Morcha to join the polls unconditionally.

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In a press conference on Sunday, the Alliance said that it will begin its protest programmes from April 18 and continue up to May 14.

To foil the planed elections, the Alliance has called for an indefinite general strike across the country from May 10 while it will organise torch rallies, mass assemblies, and demonstrations in the days leading up to the general strike.

A statement issued by the Alliance said its protest was to ensure the rights of the people and safeguard the norms of democracy.

At a joint press meet here, the Madhesi Morcha and Federal Alliance leaders reiterated their position of going for polls only after amending the Constitution to address the demands of the Madhesis, indigenous nationalities, the Tharus, Muslims, Dalits and the marginalised.

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“We are forced to go for agitation in order to protect the achievements of the past including federalism, national identity, democracy, republic and proportional representation and inclusion,” said Alliance Coordinator Upendra Yadav.

Yadav also said that elections to the federal Parliament and the provincial assemblies should be held first after addressing the issues of restructuring. And the local-level elections should be held under the provincial governments.



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