Nepali Times
From The Nepali Press
Voting right

The government is using its propaganda machinery to make people feel it is working towards restoring peace and holding general elections. But what it wants to do is still not clear. Apart from the government, there are two other forces directly related to elections: political parties and voters. For the parties that ruled the country for 14 years with the people's confidence, elections are not something they can run away from.

As far as the voters are concerned, they first need to be assured that peace will be restored. Due to the conflict, a big chunk of voters have left for foreign countries to earn their livelihood. The remaining voters have no interest to take part in the polls.

But this does not mean we should look for excuses to obstruct the people's participation in a democratic exercise. The government should not prolong the state of political limbo of the last two and a half years. If such a situation persists, instability and lawlessness will prevail. If the country is run with the help of one ordinance after another, the constitution will have no status and the rule of law, which is the basic essence of a democratic society, will become a joke. That is why the constitution needs to be activated at the earliest and we need to have a legitimate government.

There are three ways of restoring the House of Representatives: First through elections, second through the court's decision, and third through the king's order. Of the three, an election is the best alternative. We need to consider the other options only if elections cannot be held. For the king to issue an order reinstating the House of Representatives either the prime minister will have to make a recommendation or the court will have to make such a ruling.

Before elections take place, we need to prepare the basic infrastructure and agree on some preconditions. For instance, there needs to be a national agreement and pledge on the results. Recent sample polls suggested that very few voters will turn up at polling booths under present circumstances. There may not be voting in some constituencies.

Normally, even if the result of such an election receives legal approval, it will not get political endorsement. If that is the case after our elections, the conflict will escalate. This is why we need an all-party consensus before the polls.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)