Deep political divides have prevented Nepal from implementing a new constitution that paves the way for elections, but the first local elections in two decades will be held in May, the government has announced, a key moment in the country’s fraught transition to democracy, AFP reports:
The impoverished Himalayan nation emerged from a brutal decade-long civil war in 2006, which brought the end of the 240-year-old Hindu monarchy and transformed it into a secular republic. But deep political divides have prevented it from implementing a new constitution that paves the way for elections, but which the minority Madhesi community says leaves them politically marginalized.
Local polls will be held on May 14, paving the way for provincial and then national elections later in the year. The Madhesis, who live in the densely populated Terai plains bordering India, want the constitution to be amended first and have pledged to protest against the polls.
“This is an achievement in a way but the problem is whether the Madhesi parties will be on board. If the Madhesi go for protest it will be impossible [to hold the polls],” Nishchal Pandey, director of the Kathmandu-based Centre for South Asian Studies, said.