DEMOCRACY RESOURCE CENTER NEPAL
POLITICAL AND CONSTITUTIONAL UPDATES
1. Election announcement: The Cabinet meeting on February 20 decided to hold local elections in a single phase across the country on May 14. The meeting also decided to release Rs.10.29 billion to the Election Commission to make necessary preparations for the poll. Nepal Police, the Armed Police Force and National Investigation Department have been directed by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) to prepare an integrated security plan ahead of the local elections. Although the major political parties, Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) (CPN-UML), Nepali Congress (N.C.), CPN-Maoist Center and Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) welcomed the decision, the Madhes-based parties have announced Madhes-centric protests against the elections. The United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) decided to organize ‘exposure campaign’ against the government for 15 days starting from 22nd February. The Madhesi parties have been demanding to amend the constitution before going for polls, which would revise the provincial restructuring to break apart hills from Tarai. On the other hand,the CPN-UMLstandsfirmonitsdecisionofnotsupportingtheamendment. Meanwhile, Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities (NEFIN) has also strongly opposed the government’s decision to hold local election without solving the dispute over local boundaries. It argued that they could not support the elections unless the local boundaries are redrawn. In addition, the Supreme Court ordered the government to hold three-tier elections within January 2018. The order added that the government should prioritise holding all the three levels of elections within the time-line set by the constitution.
2. Election threshold: The Election Commission has proposed 1.5% threshold for political parties seeking representation in the parliament in order to promote political stability by reducing their number. The Bill Related to Election of Members of House of Representatives has set out 1.5 percent threshold provision for parliamentary seats under the Proportional Representation (PR) category. At present, 110 parties are registered with the E.C. but only 30 of them are represented in the parliament. The commission has proposed 50%women representation under PR category along with the threshold provision.
3. Election preparation: The task of Election Commission seems tremendously challenging with the announcement of the election on 20th February, 83 days ahead of the election date. The commission needs to carry out basic preparatory task required for conducting local elections across the country. According to experts, this is the shortest time frame in the history of local elections in Nepal. Although P.M. Dahal has assured the EC for all kinds of operational and political support, fixing polling stations and deployment of officials cannot happen unless government provides report of the Local Level Restructuring Commission to the EC. Until February 25, after five days of the announcement, the Election Commission wasyet to declare code of conduct for the elections.
4. Local level restructuring : The three member task-force formed under the leadership of Minister for Local Development Hit Raj Pandey, for studying the Local Level Restructuring Commission’s (LLRC) report was directed by the government to increase the number of local bodies. But it is unclear whether the local bodies would be increased only in Province 2 or across the districts of Tarai. The LLRC report had recommended to form 719 local bodies across the country over which the Madhes-basedparties had expressed dissatisfaction. In addition, proposed local units in some hill districts including Nuwakot and Bajhang are also under dispute.Meanwhile,the LLRC itself has denied to revise the report.
1. The cadres of Samyukta Loktantrik Morcha staged demonstration in various Tarai districts against the government’s decision to announce thelocal polls before revising theconstitution amendment bill. The protesters burnt tyres during the day and took out torch rallies in the nightinseveraldistricts,includingBara,Parsa,Rauthat,SaptariandKapilvastu.
2. The Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha (SLMM) called banda affected life in central and eastern Tarai districts on 23rd February. Western Tarai districts, however, remained largely unaffected by the strike. Banda affected districts like Morang, Saptari, Siraha, Mahottari, Dhanusha, Bara, Parsa, Rautahat, Rupandehi and Kapilvastu, as vehicular movement was obstructed with factories, markets and educational institutions closed. In Janakpur, CPN-UML cadres and SLMM supporter sclashed.
EARTHQUAKE RECOVERY UPDATES
1. Non-Residential Nepali Association (NRNA) and Nepal Army (N.A.) have funded the house reconstruction of the earthquake displaced families at Gusipakha in Laprak, Gorkha. The NRNA has assured to build 573 two-storey houses with four rooms for the earthquake displaced families. Each house will be built on three aanaas of land (roughly 1,026sqft)possibly in eight months and will cost Rs1.2million to be completed.
2. The National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) has written formally to the Ministry of Finance on 19th of February to formulate working guidelines for implementing the government’s decision to provide the promised interest and collateral free loan of Rs 300,000,apart from the housing grant of Rs300,000 to earthquake victims.
3. Schools inRaksiring, Kavrang, and Tarbang ofKaule VDC in Chitwan district are yet to be reconstructed after the 2015 earthquake. This has resulted into 58 children from Kaule VDCbeingdeprivedofeducation. 4. There has been ashortage ofworkers to reconstruct houses damaged by theearthquakein Okhaldhunga district. The National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) had signed aid agreement for the reconstruction with 20,165 earthquake victim families in the district. But the Urban Development and Building Division Office reported that 2,342 families have begun rebuilding their houses. There are only 700 masons and carpenters in the district,whilethenecessarynumberis,atleast,5,000.5 . The earthquake victims of Phalante and Bhumlutar VDCs in Kavre have finally started to sign housing-aidagreement withtheNationalReconstruction Authority (NRA).Although their names were enlisted for housing grant, they were identified as ineligible candidates becausetheylackedthelandownershippapers.