Nepal calls April-May elections to end deadlock
- Published: 20/11/2012 at 08:47 PM
- Online news:
Nepal's Maoist-led government on Tuesday called polls to elect a new parliament for April or May next year, offering hope for an end to the political deadlock crippling the deeply-divided nation.
Nepalese Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai answers questions during a press conference in Kathmandu in May 2012. Nepal's Maoist-led government on Tuesday called polls to elect a new parliament for April or May next year, offering hope for an end to the political deadlock crippling the deeply-divided nation.
Elections had originally been earmarked for this week but legal problems and the failure of the country's main political parties to agree on how and when it should take place had led to the plan being dropped.
"The government today decided to conduct Constituent Assembly elections between mid-April and mid-May 2013. We will fix the exact date after consultation with the parties," information minister Rajkishore Yadav told AFP.
Nepal has been run by a caretaker Maoist-led government since the collapse in May of an interim assembly that had failed in its main task of drawing up a new constitution following a 10-year civil war that ended in 2006.
Maoist Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai had called for November polls, but the country's election commission insisted the lack of a workable constitution meant there were no legal provisions for holding a vote.
"The government wanted to conduct elections in November 22 but it was not possible because of the special circumstance," said Yadav.
"It requires political consensus to conduct elections, hence the government will now start serious dialogue with parties and fix a date for the polls."
President Ram Baran Yadav late on Tuesday approved a 300 billion rupees ($41 million) budget covering the rest of the financial year.
Nepal has been surviving on a four-month emergency budget since the government failed to get its financial plan for 2012-2013 rubber-stamped by the president in July.
But those funds ran out last week, leaving 500,000 teachers, police, soldiers and other public sector workers facing the prospect of missing out on their pay packets in mid-December.
The head of state had insisted he would not sign off on the budget unless it could be agreed upon by all parties.
The president's office said he had now approved the blueprint forwarded by the Maoists which was modelled on last year's expenditure and covers only essential costs.
"The president approved the budget ordinance proposed by the government. The budget is without new policies and programmes," presidential spokesman Rajendra Dahal told AFP.
"It amounts to two thirds of the total expenditure made by the previous government."
Opposition politicians have said they will not support a budget without the resignation of the prime minister, and an alliance of 18 parties immediately released a statement opposing the move.
"If the current coalition government is allowed to present the budget, it will help the government become authoritarian. It will also minimise the possibility of consensus.
"We have put forward the notion of bringing out the full budget through a national unity government which in turn will ensure the constitution can be written."
Finance minister Barsha Man Pun told reporters: "We have generously accepted the budget prepared by the previous government to save the country from a possible economic crisis. Opposition parties should be happy over our move rather than criticising it."
An estimated 16,000 people died in the 1996-2006 "people's war" fought by the Maoists against the state before the rebels turned to politics and swept to power in elections two years later.
Political infighting, which included a split in the ruling Maoist party earlier this year, has confounded efforts to implement a post-conflict peace plan.
About the author
- Writer: AFP
Position: News agency