-  Friday 23 March 2018

Nov 22: A lost opportunity

 -  The Kathmandu Post

Nov. 22 2007 - November 22 will go down in Nepal’s history as a missed opportunity.

The country was tantalizingly close to the constituent assembly election -- and by extension to republic -- but the parties decided to postpone the election at the eleventh hour. Now both the polls and the republic have become more uncertain than ever.

The Maoists' demand for declaration of a republic and adoption of a fully proportional electoral system instead of what they had previously agreed was the main reason behind the poll deferral. To put it bluntly, Maoist aversion to facing the electorate killed the election.

As the political uncertainty deepens, it's taking a huge toll on public confidence.

If only we had risen to the occasion and seized the opportunity we would be a different country today.

"It was a missed opportunity," says Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Bhojraj Pokharel.

He says the nation would have seen more economic development and a better political and security situation had there been an election. "The political parties also lost their national and international credibility by deferring the scheduled poll twice," he says.

He says the poll would address the issues of marginalized groups including Dalits, Madhesis, Indigenous people and others. "Now these issues are being raised in a different manner and the situation is getting more complicated," he says.

As the government hasn't yet announced a new date for the CA poll, Pokharel says it has further eroded public confidence in political parties. "People across the country are now frustrated with the parties and the debate hinges around whether or not the political parties will be able to conduct the poll," he says.

Instead of reaching consensus and evaluating why the CA poll couldn't be held, the parties are now busy shooting charges at one another and the security situation is worsening.

Nilambar Acharya, a political analyst, says, "The political parties lost a great opportunity by postponing the November 22 poll."

He says the failure to conduct the poll on November 22 has obstructed the progressive move, the peace process and loktantra.

"The parties haven't yet told the people why they postponed poll," he said, adding, "They must do so if they are accountable to the people".

He says the postponement of the poll has further vindicated the suspicion that Maoists are not committed to the political process and the government is not accountable to people.

"Their irresponsibility was exposed when they continued the special session of the interim parliament for such a long time and lately they adjourned the regular winter session of parliament for 10 days," he said.

Arjun Narsing KC, spokesperson of the Nepali Congress, says the people's aspirations to establish a democratic republic and permanent peace was shattered due to the postponement of the poll. "The political situation is getting more complicated and uncertainty is growing," he says.

Pradip Gyawali of CPN-UML says the country has further plunged into political crisis and uncertainty as the parties have to agree on election date.

"It seems that the whole peace process has been defeated and the nation is moving toward uncertainty," he lamented.

He claims that the government would have already addressed the issues of Madhesis, Indigenous people, Dalits and other marginalized groups. "But now the situation has become more complicated," he says, adding, "Even monarchy has received an extra lease of life."

However, the Maoists have different arguments. "Polls without maintaining peace are meaningless," says Barsa Man Pun 'Ananta', a central leader of the CPN-Maoist.

He says that the November 22 poll was not possible without addressing the issues of the Madhesis, indigenous and other marginalized groups. "Attempt to conduct polls in haste brought the crisis," Ananta says, adding, "The pro-monarchist forces would unleash bloodshed if the poll was conducted in a hurry."
Source : The Kathmandu Post

Other articles by reporter The Kathmandu Post

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