Amending the interim constitution for the third time this year through presidential decree, the government cleared the hurdles to mobilising the army during the Constituent Assembly (CA) elections on November 19.
This is the third presidential decree made using a provision in the constitution “to remove hurdles”.
It effectively overrides articles in the interim constitution that say the army can only be mobilised during natural disasters on the condition that such mobilisation is endorsed by Parliament within a month.
“The Army will form the third layer of security at the polling stations, in addition to the police and Armed Police layers,” said an election commissioner.
The government plans to deploy 61,000 army personnel, with special focus on areas deemed sensitive due to the presence of parties opposed to the Assembly elections.
It will start patrolling a month before the election date, according to the security plan devised by the Home Ministry in consultation with the armed forces. The Army will also handle security of the ballot boxes and the ballot papers before the elections.
The move contrasts sharply with the 2008 CA elections, when the army, along with the Maoists’ People’s Liberation Army (PLA), was confined to the barracks because of provisions in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. The current plan has been denounced by the poll-opposing splinter Maoist party, the CPN-Maoist, which has said it will “actively boycott” the elections.