Nepal delays local polls again over Ramadan

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Kathmandu, May 31 (IANS) Nepal on Wednesday postponed the final phase of local elections for a second time in less than a week to avoid a clash with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The elections will now be held on June 28, a day after Eid, that marks the end of Ramadan, Nepal’s Minister of Home Affairs Bimalendra Nidhi was quoted by Efe news as saying.

Leaders of Nepal’s minority Muslim community, who form 3.7 per cent of the Himalayan nation’s population, had requested acting Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ on Tuesday to postpone the poll date.

Earlier, on Monday, the Nepali government had pushed back the polls from June 14 to 23 to pacify Madhesi parties who had threatened to boycott the first local polls in 20 years over dissatisfaction with certain provisions of the new Constitution promulgated less than two years ago.

The Madhesis are the residents of the southern Terai region, bordering India, who have been demanding, among others, amendment to the 2015 Constitution to redraw the provincial boundaries and for greater representation in the legislature.

The postponement of the elections comes a week after Prachanda resigned as part of an agreement between his party, the UCPN-Maoist, and the ruling coalition ally Nepali Congress led by Sher Bahadur Deuba, who is expected take office before the second phase of local polls.

Nine million people are eligible to vote in the local elections that are being contested by over 49,000 candidates, vying for 13,556 seats in 283 local bodies majorly in the Terai region.

–IANS

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