Nepal’s agitating Madhesi parties have agreed to participate in the second phase of local-level elections to be held on Wednesday, the government said on Monday. Rastriya Janta Party Nepal (RJPN), Madhesi party and Biplab-led Maoist Party have fielded candidates for the polls, Home Minister Janardan Sharma said. “The government has made a foolproof security plan for conducting the second phase of local polls slated for June 28 in a successful manner,” he said.
The second round of local-level elections is taking place in 334 local units in 35 districts of provinces number 1, 5 and 7. The government is fully prepared to provide the necessary security and required number of all security forces including Armed Police Force and Nepal Army personnel will be mobilised to ensure the voters’ security, Sharma told reporters in Kathmandu.
There will be three-tiered security arrangements, the first by Nepal Police personnel guarding the polling stations and outside of the polling station, Sharma said, adding that Armed Police Force and Nepal Army personnel will be mobilised as per need. He also appealed to the general public to cast their votes without any fear as the government has mobilised all the security agencies and civil servants accordingly in all the polling booths across the three provinces.
“We have not seen any problem in smoothly conducting the polls,” the minister said. The successful completion of the local polls was necessary “for the development of the country, for promoting competitive politics and it is the stepping stone for the task of constitution implementation,” Sharma said. Like the first phase of local election, the second phase of polls will also become a success, he said.
“Local-level elections in the province number two was deferred after mutual consent between Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and RJP-N,” Sharma said, adding that no forces can foil the upcoming local polls as the government has made full-proof arrangements for making them a success. The third round of local-level elections in province number two is slated for September 18.
Madhesis were earlier divided over participating in the second phase of local body polls, with one faction insisting on taking part in the process to foil the reactionary forces’ conspiracy against federalism while other announcing fresh protests to disrupt elections. Some Madhes-centric parties have opposed the elections until the Constitution is amended to accommodate their views: more representation in parliament and redrawing of provincial boundaries.
The Nepal government has tabled a new Constitution amendment bill in Parliament to address the demands of the agitating Madhesi parties ahead of the local elections. Madhesis, mostly of Indian-origin, launched a prolonged agitation between September 2015 and February last year against the implementation of the new Constitution which they felt marginalised the Terai community.
Meanwhile, the US has urged all political parties in Nepal to mutually respect the freedom of non-violent expression and assembly and individual’s voting rights as guaranteed by the Constitution. “The United States remains committed to working with all stakeholders for a peaceful, inclusive, broadly-supported, and credible election process,” the US Embassy in Kathmandu said in a statement. The UK has also called on all stakeholders to create the necessary conditions to allow the people to exercise their right to vote peacefully.