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CJ-led Government-05

Issue 16, April 21, 2013

Siddhi B Ranjitkar


The state-run newspaper ‘gorkhapatra’ has published the one-month progress of the Interim Election Council of Ministers (IECM) on April 16, 2013. The president had administered the oath of office to the chairman of IECM on March 14, 2013 following the agreement of the four major political parties such as UCPN-Maoist, NC, CPN-UML and UDMF to set up IECM. It had to declare the date for elections to a Constituent Assembly (CA) next day and work day and night to hold elections within three months. The progress so far made by the IECM is passing the amendments to three election-related laws. This has been the results of the members of the IECM including the chairman has been engaged in attending one event after another and delivering speeches. Similarly, the election commissioners including the chief election commissioners have been going around talking to the people as if they are running election campaign.


The progress made by the IECM has been amendments to three election-related laws: Voters’ Lists Act of 2063 (2007), Election commission Act of 2063 (2007), and Nepal Citizenship Act of 2063 (2007). The Election Commission (EC) distributes voters’ cards to the citizens of 18 years of age and above based on the citizenship certificates. On the third paragraph, the news reports said the Constituent Assembly Member Election Act of 2064 (2007) was in the process of discussion. Practically, the progress was only passing the three amendment bills.


In addition, the IECM has shown the progress made in amending other laws not related to the elections. The previous government headed by Dr Baburam Bhattarai had submitted the amendment bills on those laws to the president for issuing ordinances but the president had put on hold those bills asking to build a consensus of all political parties on them. Obviously, NC and CPN-UML leaders had never agreed on those amendments. Surprisingly, NC and CPN-UML did not oppose those amendment bills after Dr Bhattarai quit the office.


Another progress mentioned in the newspaper was the chairman of IECM set up a three-member ministerial consultation and coordination committee headed by the Home Minister. Its terms of reference was to talk to the political parties opposing the elections to a new CA. The so-called 33-opposing political parties including the CPN-Maoist-Vaidhya had refused to talk to the committee stating the IECM was unconstitutional and they would not talk to any committee set up by such an unconstitutional government.


Initiation of an election-centered-special-security plan has been another progress mentioned in the news reports. In addition, election units have been set up at the Home Ministry, and at the security agencies, and these units have been working. Speaking to the anchor of the Radio Nepal morning program called ‘antar-sambad’ on April 16, 2013, Secretary Krishna Hari Banskota said that an unified security plan has been made at the center, and instructed the security agency to make a district security plan at each district for holding elections safely.


The IECM has made public the budget for the remaining period of the fiscal year 2012 on April 9, 2013 was also the progress made mentioned in the one-month progress of the IECM. The budget was mainly the playing with the figures. The donor community provides most of the resources required for the elections. A crowd of donors is prepared to provide any amount of money required for holding the elections in fair and free manner. Concerning other development activities, these were regular activities that did not move so fast, no matter whether the money was available or not.


Coordination and discussion with the ‘Occupy Baluwater’ group consequent suspension of ‘Occupy Baluwater’ protest also was the progress made by the IECM. A group of the family members of the victims of the violence against women, and family members of the victims of the enforced disappearances, and murdered during the 10-year long civil conflict, has been protesting at the residence of the prime minister since four months ago. Former Prime Minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai had not only taken the ‘Occupy Baluwater’ protest as targeted against him and his party but also sent his party cadres to counter the protest without success. The protestors have not withdrawn the ‘Occupy Baluwater’ protest but have only suspended for the time to see how the IECM meet their demands.


Creating an environment conducive to hold elections of the Students’ Unions at the Tribhuvan University following the amendment to the Tribhuvan University Organization and Administration Rules of 2050 (1993).


These are all the progresses made by the IECM mentioned in the ‘gorkhapatra’ published on April 16, 2013.


The IECM has forgotten to mention other progress such as the IECM has instructed the Ministry of Law and Justice to replace the words such as 'kingdom' and 'his majesty' with news words to match the spirit of the republic. The Council of Ministers at its meeting held on April 12, 2013 decided to replace some words and phrases with news ones in 102 laws still in use even after seven years of the abolition of the monarchy. (Source: ‘The Rising Nepal’ of April 15, 2013)


Another progress left out was ‘Citizen Charter’ that has been on display at five state departments such as Land Registration, Survey, Immigration, transport, and foreign employment since April 2013. According to the ‘Citizen Charter’, any official delaying service delivery would be accountable and would need to pay compensation from his/her pocket from Rs 250 to Rs 5,000. If the delay were due to the official reason then the state coffer would pay the compensation. However, in the interviews of some people aired on the Radio Nepal in the 7:00 morning news, none of the interviewees believed in the enforcement of this charter on April 16, 2013.


The most important task the chief justice transformed into the chairman of IECM has overlooked was the delineation of the new areas of constituencies. Political leaders overlooked it on purpose or unknowingly but the person of the stature of the chief justice should not overlook the need for following the interim constitution to delineate the areas of constituencies after every population census done every 10 year. The latest population census was held in 2010. Consequently, the IECM could not hold elections without delineating the areas of constituencies.


The Supreme Court of Nepal has ordered the IECM to set up a Commission on Election Area Delineation following the Article 154 (a) of the Interim Constitution of Nepal of 2007 to delineate the new areas of constituencies based on the latest population consensus, and set the number of members of the CA. Hearing on the petition filed by former Minister Jayaprakash Prasad Gupta, a single bench of Justice Girishchandra Lal has issued such order to the government, and to the office of the president. The Article 63 (3) (a) has the provision for delineating constituencies maintaining the administrative districts as the election districts based on the latest population census, and then setting the number of members of a CA before holding elections to a CA (Source: Gorkhapatra of April 17, 2013)


The current constituencies were delineated following the population census of 2000. Some of the Madheshi parties have been demanding the fresh delineation of constituencies, and increasing the number of members of the CA. They have demanded to delineate the constituencies based on the population census of 2010. The four major political parties had agreed on reducing the number of CA members from 601 set in 2008 to 491: 240 directly elected from 240 constituencies, and 240 nominated by political parties proportional to the votes they received, and 11 to be nominated. A lot of people have complained that 601 members of the CA have been too high for the small country like Nepal.


One of the Election Commissioners has said that the EC could hold elections within one month of the amendments to the election-related laws. The IECM has proudly stated in its one-month progress report that the all-election related laws excepts for the Constituent Assembly Member Election Act of 2064 (2007) have been amended. If we were to believe the Election Commissioner’s statement we have still time to hold elections in June this year.


Spokesman for the IECM said that the three-member ministerial consultation and coordination committee head by the Home Minister has sent letters to the CPN-Maoist of Vaidhya, Madheshi People’s Rights Forum-Nepal (MPRF-Nepal) of Upendra Yadav, and Federal Socialist Party of Ashok Rai inviting them to table talks. Chairman of IECM had set up a three-member ministerial consultation and coordination committee headed by the Home Minister on March 29, 2013 to talk to the parties opposing the elections to a new CA.


MPRF-Nepal had been ready to sit with the members of the three-member ministerial consultation and coordination committee on Saturday, April 20, 2013. Chairman of MPRF-Nepal said that his party was going to ask the members of the committee to correct the past mistake, and then talk about the citizenship, delineation of constituencies, voters’ list. The past mistake means the unconstitutional formation of the IECM through the amendment to the 25 Articles of the Interim Constitution of Nepal of 2007.


Federal Socialist Party of Ashok Rai also had been ready to talk to the members of the committee but had not set the date, yet. At the same time, spokeswoman for the CPN-Maoist-Vaidhya also had hinted at willing to talk to the committee members but had not set any date. Spokesman for the IECM said that the committee was going to have the talks with eight parties of the Federal Democratic Front.


After taking office of the coordinator of the High Level Political Committee (HLPC) on April 18, 2013, President of NC accompanied by his deputy Ram Chandra Poudel made a visit to the residence of Chairman of CPN-Maoist-Vaidhya, and attempted on luring Chairman Mohan Vaidhya into the HLPC but Chairman Vaidhya told President of NC Koirala to scrap the 11-point agreement the four parties had reached before considering to join the four-party syndicate. President of NC Koirala had boasted that after assuming the office of the coordinator of the HLPC he was going to have in rotation he would break the syndicate of the four parties. However, President of NC Koirala did not bother to say that the four parties had already decided to include the CPN-Maoist-Vaidhya, and MPRF-Nepal in the syndicate making it a six-party syndicate.


A single bench of Justice Girishchandra Lal has issued an order to the concerned agencies including the Constitutional Council (CC) to explain the reasons within 15 days for reappointing election commissioners. Advocate Prabinkumar had petitioned the Supreme Court of Nepal for annulling the reappointment of the former election commissioners, as it was unconstitutional pursuant to the Article 128 of the Interim Constitution of Nepal of 2007. The president had reappointed three commissioners including the chief commissioner to the EC on the recommendations of the CC. HLPC in turn had recommended the CC the names of five election commissioners including the three former election commissioners for appointment. (Source: ‘gorkhapatra’ of April 17, 2013)


Members of the IECM and the EC had held discussions about the preparations for holding elections to a new CA. Chief Election Commissioner Nilkantha Uprety said that they had had discussions about the challenges to the elections, and tackling the challenges, and setting the date for holding the elections. He said, “the government has been moving to the elections with full commitment. The EC has been making preparations accordingly. So, nobody needs to doubt about the elections.” He also said, “if elections were impossible in June, then would be held in October. We are all responsible for that.” (Source: ‘gorkhapatra’ of April 18, 2013)


In reply to the show cause notice of the Supreme Court of Nepal on Thursday, April 18, 2013, Chairman of IECM Khil Raj Regmi in his written answer stated that if he were to resign from the office of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Nepal, it would cause the constitutional crisis, as he had been appointed to the office of the Chairman of IECM following the ‘Removable of Constitutional Hurdles Ordinance.” The Chairman further stated that while working as the Chairman of the IECM, he would be entirely separated from the judicial functions; so, he working as the Chairman of the IECM would not have influence on the independence of the judiciary, and would not undermine the principles and values of the judiciary, and the separation of power. So, he urged the Supreme Court of Nepal to quash the petition filed at the Supreme Court of Nepal demanding his resignation from the office of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Nepal. (Source: ‘gorkhapatra of April 19, 2013)


Two advocates such as Chandra Kanta Gyawali and Om Prakash Aryal had petitioned the Supreme Court of Nepal for the resignation of the Chief Justice after he took office of the Chairman of IECM, stating it went against the principles of the separation of power, and the advocates also stated in their petition that appointing the Chief Justice to the Chairman of the IECM following the ‘Removable of Constitutional Hurdles Ordinance” was unconstitutional. (Source: ‘gorkhapatra’ of April 19, 2013)


April 20, 2013

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