Madhesi Morcha refuses to join polls till demands are met

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Kathmandu, Dec 30 (IANS) The agitating Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha in Nepal on Friday said it would not participate in local government elections until their demands are met through a constitutional amendment.

The Morcha issued a strongly worded statement after three major political parties — the Nepali Congress, Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist-Leninist and Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Center) — unilaterally agreed to hold polls to local bodies without approval from Madhes-based parties and without amending the Constitution as they demanded.

“Any elections without fulfilling the demands of various ethnic and marginalised communities will only invite conflict. The Constitution Amendment Bill registered in Parliament Secretariat should be revised and approved, which only will pave the way for elections,” a top Morcha leader said on Friday after the Medhesi leaders’ meetings.

The Morcha leaders held extensive deliberations on Thursday and Friday for their future strategy in case the Nepal government goes ahead with the planned polls to the local government bodies.

The government is under pressure from the Nepali Congress and CPN-UML to announce the dates of these local polls, which they agreed to hold in accordance with the Local Level Restructuring Commission report.

As per the mandatory constitutional provision, Nepal needs to hold elections to local, provincial and federal bodies within the next 15 months. If any of these elections do not take place on schedule, the new Constitution promulgated last year will become invalid.

In order to hold local polls, the government formed the panel to come up with new numbers of local units reflecting the federal aspirations.

The Madhesi Morcha rejected a report prepared by the Local Level Restructuring Commission on new local units.

Any demarcation of the local bodies should be based on the population ratio, a Morcha statement said. “The commission report is unconstitutional; we are not going to accept it.”

In order to address the demands of agitating Madhes parties vis-a-vis citizenship, language, federal boundaries and equal representation to Madhesis and other marginalised communities in various state bodies, the government registered the bill in Parliament on November 29.

However, due to obstruction by the main opposition parties, the government could not table the bill in the house. The Madhes parties have now called on the government to revise the bill since it also does not meet their demands and requirements.

In its four-point statement, the Madhesi Morcha said it will hold demonstrations in major Nepal cities on Monday to protest attempts to announce local poll dates before constitutional amendment.

The meeting criticised the main opposition CPN-UML for continuously obstructing Parliament’s meeting to block the government from tabling the constitutional amendment bill and a discussions on it.

–IANS

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