Nepal’s EC tells PM Oli to conduct Nov snap polls in single phase

PTI, May 23, 2021, 2:48 PM IST

Kathmandu: Nepal’s Election Commission has advised the government led by embattled Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli to conduct the mid-term elections slated for November 12 and 19 in a single phase to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 during electioneering.

After a meeting with Prime Minister KP Oli on Saturday, Chief Election Commissioner Dinesh Kumar Thapaliya said it is Election Commission’s constitutional duty to successfully conduct polls once the date has been announced.

”We have abundant time for preparation and have suggested to the government to conduct the election in a single phase,” Thapaliya was quoted as saying in a report in My Republica.

In the meeting, the representatives of the Election Commission also suggested to the government to create a favourable political environment for elections, maintain peace and security, and prevent the spread of COVID-19 infections among others, it said.

Nepal’s President Bidya Devi Bhandari dissolved the House of Representatives on Saturday for the second time in five months and announced snap elections on November 12 and November 19 on the recommendation of prime minister Oli.

Oli suggested that the Election Commission officials step up preparations for elections by devising a proper strategy based on its past election-management experience in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

”On the one hand, the COVID-19 pandemic is raging, and on the other, the election should be carried out within six months. There is no situation for deferring the election due to the pandemic. Amid the pandemic too, various countries including India, the US, the UK, and Brazil have successfully completed elections,” Oli said.

Nepal on Sunday reported 8,980 new coronavirus cases, taking the national tally to over 505643 while the death toll stands at 6,153, according to the health ministry.

A total of 129 more fatalities were reported from across the country in the past 24 hours on Saturday, the ministry said.

Thapalya said the prime minister assured the commission of adequate security arrangement, budget, and human resources for the election, The Himalayan Times reported.

The Election Commission advised the prime minister to review the decision to hold polls in two phases, Thapalya said.

The president’s announcement plunged Nepal into further political crisis and brought back memories of December 2020 when she first dissolved the House at Oli’s recommendation, a move that swayed the course of Nepali politics towards uncertainty.

The Supreme Court later annulled the duo’s move in February.

Alarmed by the President’s step to dissolve the House yet again, the leaders of Nepal’s Opposition alliance on Saturday decided to take all legal and political means to counter Prime Minister Oli and President Bhandari’s ”unconstitutional, undemocratic and regressive” move.

The Opposition alliance blamed the president for making an assault on the Constitution and democracy in partnership with the prime minister, who had lost a trust vote in the House.

The parties claimed that the government is hell-bent on its attempt to prolong the autocratic rule despite the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

Speaker of the House of Representatives Agni Prasad Sapkota also said President Bhandari’s decision to dissolve the House was against the spirit of the Constitution of Nepal.

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