Ruling coalition almost agrees about holding all 3 elections in March 2023 – Sanjib Bagale

The ruling coalition has almost reached agreement to hold election of all three levels of government together in March 2023.

The final decision on the elections will be taken after final consultation with constitutional experts, intra-party discussions, and all-party meeting, according to a coalition leader.

CPN (Maoist Center) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal had recently proposed to hold parliamentary elections in April-May and local election in November-December pointing that CPM-UML has been obstructing the House.

“We have concluded that parliamentary elections cannot be held in April-May as the five-year term of House expires only in March 2023 and the Supreme Court verdict has also stated that the House should compete its full term,” the leader explained.

The leader stated that the three elections will be held together as far as possible. “Holding all the elections together will require lower expenses and the state has to bear lesser financial burden.”

The provincial and federal elections were last held on November 26 and December 7, 2017 in two stages. The Election Commission had announced final results only on February 14, 2018 as the National Assembly election had to be first held before picking House fo Representatives (HoR) members through the proportional representation (PR) system to ensure that the federal parliament is inclusive as required by the Constituion.

KP Sharma Oli was appointed prime minister on February 15, 2018 and the first session of the HoR and National Assembly started 18 days later.

The term of local bodies, however, finishes before that. The local election were held in three stages in May, June and September 2017.

There are two provisions about local bodies and their members in the Constitution. Article 215 states that the term of heads and deputy heads, ward chairs and members of local bodies will be five years.

Article 225 states that the term of rural assembly and municipal assembly will be five years, and election for the next rural assembly and municipal assembly should be held within six months of end of that term.

Clause 3 of the Local Election Act, on the other hand, states that members will be elected two months before the term of rural assembly and municipal assembly expires. Sub-clause 4 of the same clause states that the election will be considered held on the date of the first stage if election is held in multiple stages.

Similarly, clause 55 of this act states that members are considered elected on the seventh day of the date of election.

The last local election should be considered held on May 19, 2017 going by this act. The local election in this way will have to be held by March 19, 2022 going by the act.

Leaders of the coalition argue that provisions of this act contravenes the Constitution and point that term of some of local elected representatives expires only in September 2022. “Some constitutional experts opine that the term of those representatives guaranteed by the Constitution cannot be cut short by provisions about election in a law,” the coalition leader confided. “The election laws, therefore, must be amended.”

The leader revealed that recommendations have been received advising amendment of the election in a way that the local election is considered to have been held in September 2017 to ensure that term of no elected local representatives is less than five years.

Election of all local bodies can in this way be held in March 2023 in accordance to Article 225 of the Constitution that requires election for the rural assembly and municipal assembly should be held within six months of end of that term.

“We will end this dospiute about election by soon holding consultation with constitutional experts, and intra- and inter-party discussions.”

There is, however, a strong position inside ruling Nepali Congress (NC) that the local election should not be delayed and must be held by May. The largest party in the coalition has yet to discuss about holding all the elections in March 2023.

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