‘Koirala in favour of Nepal elections in November’


Kathmandu : Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala favours holding Nepal's constituent assembly election, put off for more than five decades, in November, a leading lawyer quoted him as saying Friday.

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Radhakanta Mainali, president of Nepal Bar Association, and the heads of other professional organisations in Nepal met Koirala Friday to urge him to announce fresh dates for the election soon and end the stalemate in parliament, which has not transacted any business for nearly a month due to disruptions by MPs.

After meeting Koirala, Mainali told the media the premier wanted to hold the election by the first week of November.

The key election will decide if the country will lose its 238-year-old institution of monarchy and become a republic.

Earlier this week, a Nepali weekly, Ghatana R Bichar, had reported that the exercise could be held either on Nov 21 or 23.

A jinx dogs the constituent assembly election in Nepal.

Though the public demand for it rose in the 50s and Tribhuvan, the current king's grandfather and the then king, agreed to hold it, the monarch forgot his promise once he came to power after the end of the rule of the all-powerful Rana prime ministers.

It was only when the Maoists started an armed insurgency in 1996 with the demand for the abolition of monarchy and King Gyanendra rapidly lost public support by trying to seize total power with the help of the army, that the right parties last year finally agreed to hold the election.

Last month, the decade-old guerrilla war ended formally after the Maoists joined the government and the eight-party ruling coalition announced the election would be held on June 20.

However, it proved to be an unrealistic announcement after the Election Commission said it would be impossible to hold the polls at such short notice and with the Terai plains simmering with violence.

Since then, fresh dates have yet not been announced due to the growing rift between the ruling parties and the Maoists.

A meeting of the country's top leaders scheduled to be held Thursday to decided on fresh dates was called off at the last minute.

It remains to be seen if the election can be held even in November.

Unrest continues in the plains with several organisations calling frequent closures to press for different demands. Even the groups that had begun negotiations with the government say they are displeased with the progress made so far.

Nepal Janjati Adivasi Mahasangh, an umbrella of nearly 60 ethnic and indigenous organisations, has now called a three-day shutdown in June.