22 August 2017
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  • » 06/17/2017, 16.36

    NEPAL

    Local elections postponed in a province on Indian border as threats of interference loom

    Christopher Sharma

    Poll is now set for September. The Rastriya Janata Party has threatened violent opposition if their demands are not heeded. Other parties and ordinary citizens protest the postponement. Some fear Indian interference against the country’s secular constitution.

    Kathmandu (AsiaNews) – The Nepali government has announced the postponement until 18 September of local elections in Province N. 2, which is located on the border with India, following threats of violent protests against the elections by the Rastriya Janata Party (RJP).

    Some fear that India is interfering in the province in order to disrupt the elections. Elections in Provinces N. 1, 5, and 7 will go ahead as planned on 28 June.

    The RJP has put pressure and threatened violent protests to prevent the poll until its requests are heard. “As long as the government does not consider our demands we will not participate in the elections,” said Senior RJP leader Anil K. Jha.

    "The government has agreed to amend the constitution, but there has been no progress towards increasing local districts based on the population," Jah added. "If we go into the elections right now, we won’t have any plans to reassure the Madhese."

    The Unified Leninist-Marxist Party (UML) slammed the decision. The "RJP is ruled and driven by Indian and Nepali Hindu fundamentalists who want to prevent the application of the secular constitution,” said UML Party Secretary Yoges Bhattarai.

    “They believe that if elections are held, secularism will be institutionalised and religious freedom will prevail. That is why they want to undermine the new secular constitution and re-establish Hinduism with the help of India,” he added. “There is no political reason for postponing the elections, but there is a malicious interest in depriving people of their secular rights."

    Sudir Sharma, editor of the well-known Kantipur newspaper, noted that some in the province are worried that the RJP is becoming a tool of India to weaken the constitution.

    Upendra Yadav, a leader of another Madhese party, criticised the postponement. "The RJP is not the only party in Madhesh," he explained. "The will of the people should not be controlled by the personal interests of a few leaders."

    Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Gopal Man Shrestha, who also acts as government spokesperson, explained that the decision was made after opponents said that they would participate in the elections in September. He also noted that the purpose of the step is to avoid clashes and deaths among Nepali citizens.

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    See also

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    25/10/2016 17:04:00 NEPAL
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    Biddhya Devi Bhandari took part in a number of public Hindu celebrations, promoting Vedic values. Christians, Buddhists and Muslims note that Nepal is a secular state and that the government should not be in favour of any one creed.



    15/05/2017 12:10:00 NEPAL
    Local elections in Kathmandu: first stage a success, few episodes of violence

    They are the first elections in 20 years, a first step towards the "secularism" promised by the Constitution. 73% of voters participated. Apart from some episodes, they took place in a peaceful and enthusiastic manner.



    24/05/2017 11:43:00 NEPAL
    Christians in Nepal enter politics. First Christian woman elected

    Previously they could not take part in the elections. Christian parties and Christian representation in other parties grow, winning in some local units. Angela Tamang, Christian Indigenous, was elected municipal vice-president.



    07/03/2017 15:37:00 NEPAL
    Nepal police opens fire on protesting Madhesi: four dead and scores wounded

    Clash occurred during a campaign rally by an opposition Communist Party. The tribal minority complains of discrimination and wants an autonomous province. The first local elections in 19 years are set for May.





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