KATHMANDU (AFP) — Nepal’s Election Commission said Monday it lacked a legal framework to hold elections promised for November — threatening a long delay that could push the country deeper into political turmoil.
“In a situation of constitutional and legal ambiguity, it will be difficult for us to proceed,” commission spokesman Sharada Prasad Trital said in a statement.
“Therefore, we have decided to inform the government that it is not possible to hold elections… on November 22,” Trital said.
Nepal has been run by a caretaker Maoist government since the collapse in May of an interim parliament, or Constituent Assembly, which 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 the polls in November, but the commission insisted that the lack of a workable constitution meant there were no legal provisions for holding an election.
Trital said the commission had written to the caretaker government saying it needed to reach a consensus with other political parties to provide the legal framework for a national ballot.
“We reminded (the government) several times but there hasn’t been any concrete progress,” he said.
The commission needs 120 days to prepare for elections which cannot be held once winter sets in.
Observers say any lengthy delay would mean postponing the ballot until April next year.
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 last month, has confounded efforts to implement a post-conflict peace plan.
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