The presidential election in Nepal is likely to be held in the third week of March with the Election Commission (EC) targeting to submit the President the results of the House of Representatives elections by February 17, The Kathmandu Post reports.
As per Clause 4 (2) of the Act on the Elections for President and Vice President-2017, the EC has to hold the presidential election in Nepal within a month of the formation of the House of Representatives and Provincial Assemblies. The law allows the EC to fix the election date and inform the government about it.
“Based on our preparations for submitting the final election results of the Lower House to the President, we will be holding the presidential election in the third week of March,” said an EC commissioner. Incumbent President Bidya Devi Bhandari was elected to the post on October 28, 2015.
As per the law, the elections to the Vice President should be held within seven days of the presidential election results. Vice President Nanda Bahadur Pun was elected on October 31, 2015.
Elections of the President and Vice President cannot be held simultaneously as Article 70 of the constitution stipulated that the two positions should represent different community and different sexes.
An electoral college comprising members of the Federal Parliament (House of Representatives and National Assembly) and Provincial Assemblies, vote to elect the President and Vice President.
An EC official said that it could take around 15 days to hold the election to Vice President after the presidential vote because the constitution has a provision of repolling if none of the candidates in the presidential race secure a clear majority.
“We want to complete all the elections within mid-April when new Nepali year 2075 begins,” the EC official said to The Kathmandu Post.
Having fast-tracked the process to elect members of the Lower House under the proportional representation (PR) category, the EC has decided to bring forward the date of the presidential election.
By amending the Directive on Proportional Elections to the House of Representatives, the EC has recently reduced the time for the parties to recommend the names from the existing seven days to three. The poll body has also decreased the time for making corrections to the first recommendations from three days to two.
The latest move comes at a time when the election body has been facing criticism from some political forces, particularly the left alliance, for delaying announcement of the election results.
But the EC maintains it cannot declare the PR results of the Lower House due to the constitutional provision which requires each party in the Upper House and the Lower House to ensure a third of women representation either through the first-past-the-post election system or compensate through the PR system.
“As National Assembly election date is very close, we have fast-tracked the process to announce the final results of the Lower House,” Election Commissioner Narendra Dahal said.