DEMOCRACY RESOURCE CENTER NEPAL
WEEK: 23/01/17 to 29/01/17
POLITICAL AND CONSTITUTIONAL UPDATES
1. Constitution amendment and local election: There seem to be three clear political streams on these two issues. The government seeks to accomplish both, holding local election and passing the amendment. But the Madhes-based parties are campaigning to pass a revised amendment to finalize the restructuring of provinces before holding any kind of election. On the other hand, Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) (CPN UML) has prioritized the election and seeks to dismiss the amendment.
Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal said that the local polls could be held between May 8 and May 13. However, he stressed that the dates for local polls would not be announced without taking Madhesi and Tharu community on board. Meanwhile, United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF), an alliance of Madhes-based parties warned the government not to declare the dates for local election without addressing their demands at a meeting called by the prime minister on January 24.
2. Election legislation: The State Affairs Committee tabled three election-related bills in the parliament on January 24. These bills cannot come into effect unless they are authenticated by the president.
The State Affairs Committee has made a female candidate essential in the local level elections in one of the following positions: District Assembly Chief/ Deputy, Municipality Chief/Deputy and Village Council’s Vice President.
The sub-committee under the State Affairs Committee decided to draft a legislation specifying that parties will have to gain three to five percent of the total votes in the three-tier elections in order to occupy the proportional representative seats of provincial and federal parliament. The Nepali Congress (N.C.) and CPN-UML supported the 3 to 5 percent of threshold while the smaller parties opposed this decision.
3. Local body restructuring: The Local Body Restructuring Committee (LBRC) said that it has been preparing basic criteria to demarcate the special, protected, semi-autonomous and autonomous regions. According to the constitution, these regions will have rights to make decisions on social, cultural and economic issues.
1. The indefinite banda called by the locals of Nuwakot against the report submitted by Local Body Restructuring Committee (LBRC) has been postponed as their demand has now entered the cabinet discussion of the government. The locals of Likhu demand village council status, whereas the people of Belkotgadhi have demanded municipality status. Earlier in the week, the protests had turned violent after some protesters hurled stones at a mass assembly organized by the Nepali Congress. The clash that followed between police and protestors left at least 17 people injured. On the other hand, the employees of District Development Committee, Nuwakot staged a pen-down strike to express their dissatisfaction against the vandalism and misbehavior forced upon their colleagues by the protestors of Likhu and Belkotgadhi.
2. The locals of Kalaiya, Bara led by the Bara Chamber of Commerce and Industry staged a demonstration on January 24 to demand sub-metropolis status for Kalaiya. The locals in Kalaiya also protested against the decision of Local Body Restructuring Committee’s report, which proposed to separate ward 21 from Kalaiya and incorporate it in Simra-Jitpur metropolis. Similarly, people in Piparpati Pacharauta of Bara district have also been protesting to attain village council status. The LBRC has proposed seven village councils, five municipalities and one sub metropolis in Bara.
EARTHQUAKE RECOVERY UPDATES
1. The National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) started to distribute the first installment of the house grant in Bhaktapur district after twenty months of the earthquake. Each displaced household will receive Rs.50,000 in the first instalment. They will receive an additional Rs.250,000 in the next two phases. Bhaktapur Chief District Officer, Drona Pokharel said, “We were planning to distribute the first tranche to all the beneficiaries. But the government has not allocated enough funds…The remaining 8,000 families will get the money when we get adequate budget.”
2. More than 966 families affected by the earthquake were denied the house grant in Bhumlutar and Phalante VDCs of Kavre. These families were labelled ineligible for the grant by the NRA because they have been living without legal papers of the land for the past forty years.
3. The NRA has decided to hire necessary staff on contract basis after the reluctance of civil servants to work for NRA. Govinda Raj Pokharel, the Chief Executive Officer of NRA held discussions over the modality of hiring staffs on 22nd of January.
4. Various INGOs and NGOs engaged in the reconstruction of health posts in the quake-hit districts were found violating the reconstruction guidelines of the government. The report produced by Central Level Project Implementation Unit (CLPIU) of the Ministry of Health states that only 2 out of 67 health institutions being reconstructed by ten I/NGOs, have been approved by the government.
1. Democracy Resource Center Nepal conducted its inaugural DRCN discussion series on 27th January on the proposed constitutional amendment and its legality. Tula Narayan Shah, a prominent political analyst and Apurwa Khatiwata, DRCN’s legal expert shared their insights on the topic. A podcast of the discussion will be uploaded soon on the DRCN website.