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Supreme Court says no

Friday, May 26th, 2017

The Supreme Court on Friday ordered the government to not implement its decision to create 22 new local councils in the Tarai. The government had announced the enlargement to appease Madhesi parties which had threatened to boycott the second phase of local elections on 14 June.

A joint bench of justices Ishwar Khatiwada and Sapana Pradhan Malla issued the interim order in response to a writ filed by three advocates. The government had recently increased the number of local units to 766 by creating 22 new municipal and village councils in 16 Tarai districts.

The main opposition UML opposed the government’s decision, saying new local councils cannot be created when the first phase of local elections is already over and before the second phase. The Election Commission had also said it was difficult to conduct polling in the newly added constituencies half-way through elections.

The government had created new local units to convince the Rashtriya Janata Party Nepal (RJPN), the new united Madhesi force. But the RJPN also rejected the government’s offer anyway on Friday, saying new units were created haphazardly and were not sufficient.

Balananda Poudel, who headed the Local Body Restructuring Commission, pointed out that new local units cannot be created with elections are just around the corner. It should be done at least a year before elections.

Meanwhile, RJPN has announced a series of protest programs to disrupt elections. On 1 June, political parties will have to nominate their candidates in four provinces. But the RJPN announced a general strike across these provinces for that day.

The RJPN was formed by six fringe Madhesi parties after their unification in April. The party then reached a deal with the NC-Maoist coalition to take part in local elections after the government agreed to hold polls in four provinces sharing border with India only on 14 June.

But the RJPN had a precondition: the government would have to amend the Constitution and create more local councils in the Tarai.

The government failed to amend the Constitution after one of the ruling parties, the RPP, nearly split over the issue.

The other Madhes-based party, Upendra Yadav’s Federal Socialist Forum, has already participated in the first phase of elections, and is proposing electoral alliances with the RJPN in the second phase, which the latter has so far rejected.

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