Amidst the preparations of the Constituent Assembly elections two months away, the Maoists celebrate their Thirteenth Anniversary in the valley today. The streets have been decorated with graffiti through which YCL (Young Communist League) offer their “Red Salute” to “Prachanda, the Future President” of the Nepal. The “Future” is yet to be seen as the elections are still two months away. And given the political climate of Nepal, anything can happen even in the eleventh hour. Keeping those possibilities aside, the Elections Commission has asked all the political parties to erase all graffiti by Feb 20. The Election Code which such comes into effect from the very date bans graffiti writing, painting on walls and putting up of posters and banners by parties and candidates at public and private sites in the course of electioneering. Feb 20, doesn’t seem to be a date in near future for our political parties as they are still continuing with their graffiti. The Constituent Assembly Elections has been for April 20,2008 after postponing it twice in April 2007 and then Nov22,2007. Thirteen may not after all be an unlucky number for the Maoists ( and the country) if the polls take place as planned.
On a different note, the Three major madhesi groups — Tarai-Madhes Democratic Party, Sadbhawana Party and Madhesi People’s Rights Forum – launched an alliance on Saturday and announced that they would take to the streets from Monday to press their six-point demand. The new front, United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF), has called for declaring 45 people killed during the madhes movement as martyrs and constitutional guarantee for autonomy and right to self determination for madhes in the future federal system. More here
Soon after the formation of the alliance the government renewed its dialogue call with the protesting tarai groups and asked them to resolve the issues through talks before launching any protest. More Here
The editorial in The Kathmandu Post ( Feb 13,2008) talks more on the issue of the polls
The three-day ultimatum given by the chief election commissioner to the Seven-Party Alliance (SPA) points to the uncertainty looming large over the Constituent Assembly (CA) election slated for April 10. The other day, the chief election commissioner criticized the government for the way it was handling the security situation both in the tarai and the hills. He had to issue an ultimatum to the SPA demanding that it address the existing problems so that he could proceed with the electoral preparations. Holding the CA polls on schedule is, no doubt, the EC’s responsibility; but the electoral process seems to be moving at a snail’s pace due to the indefinite general strikes in parts of the country. For weeks, the recently formed United Madhesi Front (UMF) has paralyzed life in the tarai, while the Young Communist League (YCL) has disrupted political campaigns in the hills.
There are hardly two months left for the CA polls. And the Election Commission (EC) has geared itself up to hold the election on April 10. However, current events paint a very disturbing picture. The UMF has put forth six demands that it wants fulfilled before the CA polls are held. This has posed a new hindrance to the electoral process. The UMF, composed of three tarai-based political parties, has already disrupted public meetings; and the YCL has brought election campaigning in parts of the country to a virtual halt. Political leaders have not been able to visit their constituencies because of the YCL’s atrocities. At this juncture, the chief election commissioner cannot adopt any alternative electoral procedure. The EC plans to train returning officers starting this Thursday. Next week, it intends to set up election offices at the district level with an aim to mobilize volunteers for a voters’ education campaign.
The rescheduled election cannot be carried out at one go. The SPA has neither nominated the required number of women candidates nor has it been able to deal with the security problems. Given the current security situation, can the EC hold the CA polls on schedule? When will the SPA partners sort out their differences? The Maoists claim that the revival of the United Revolutionary People’s Council (URPC) does not constitute forming a parallel administration when the world knows that violence, brutality and highhandedness are part of the Maoists’ strategy to win the polls. YCL cadres have attacked NC leader Dilendra Badu. They have abducted local leaders. Unless the Maoists dissolve the YCL and withdraw the decision to reactivate the URPC, the EC will find it hard to continue with the preparations for the polls. The UMF may not budge from its political agenda, which will affect the CA polls.