Nepal’s preparation for the second Constituent Assembly (CA) elections — scheduled for November 19 — moved ahead this week, but without the splinter CPN-Maoist and its alliance on board.
Candidates from political parties as well as independents filed their nomination papers at the offices of Election Commission (EC) across the country on Thursday. The mood among candidates as well as their supporters was jubilant, especially among those who received ‘tickets’ to run; they celebrated the ‘ticket’ victory by taking out colourful, often musical, rallies to the registration office.
Parties also submitted ‘closed’ lists of candidates for proportional representation— to constitute 58 per cent of the 601-member CA — on Friday.
“The nominations clears whatsoever doubt there was that elections will be held on November 19,” said Mumaram Khanal, a political analyst.
But the nomination days didn’t go without protests. The police arrested a dozen activists of the Federal Limbuwan State Council, a poll-boycotting party in eastern Nepal calling for an autonomous state for the ethnic Limbus, as they tried to obstruct traffic. In a symbolic move, the splinter CPN-Maoist, which has said it will “actively boycott” the election, marked the day by burning effigies of the leaders of the major parties, having declared on October 2 that talks to bring them on board for elections failed due to intervention from “foreign power centres”. The party also condemned government plans, to mobilise Army to maintain election security, as an invitation to conflict.
Earlier, the CPN-Maoist had called for the Chairman of Cabinet Khil Raj Regmi, also the Chief Justice, to resign from his judicial post as a precondition for joining the process. Mr. Regmi has rejected the proposition many times; further, his position on the splinter Maoists also appears to be hardening. Returning from U.N. General Assembly meet in New York on October 1, where he met the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the sidelines, Mr. Regmi called the CPN-Maoists “bubbles in water” that will soon “vanish”.
The enthusiasm for elections got somewhat dampened a day after the nominations, when Mohammad Alam, a candidate from the Communist Party of Nepal-United Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML), was shot at point-blank range by unknown gunmen in Bara, a southern district. Mr. Alam suffered bullet injuries in the head and was airlifted to Kathmandu where doctors say he remains critical. Both the Election Commission and the CPN-UML urged the government to improve the security situation.