RJP-Nepal will participate in third phase of local polls: CEC

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The Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal, a coalition of six Madhes-based groups who had boycotted the first two phases of the local-level polls, will participate in the final phase next month, according to the chief election commissioner (CEC). Madhesi parties have long been demanding an amendment to the Constitution promulgated in 2015 to accommodate their main demands: more political representation for the inhabitants of the southern plains and redrawing the provincial boundaries. They had boycotted the first two phases of the polls -being held for the first time in about two decades – over the demands.

CEC Ayodhi Prasad Yadav told reporters in Janakpur, a centre for cultural tourism about 200 kilometres from Kathmandu, that RJP-Nepal will contest the polls scheduled on September 18 in Province No. 2 as per the deal reached with the government and the main opposition CPN-UML of former prime minister KP Sharma Oli. In April, six Madhesi parties announced to jointly form the Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal (RJP-Nepal).

RJP-Nepal leader Rajendra Mahato last week, however, indicated the party might contest the third phase, saying the ruling alliance of Nepali Congress and CPN-Maoist Centre have assured them they would endorse the Constitution amendment bill tabled in the parliament. Yadav also said that the Election Commission was preparing to hold federal and provincial elections in 31 mountainous and hilly districts on November 20 and discussions were underway with the central government on the matter.

Millions of Nepalese voted in the first two phases as the Himalayan nation takes a key step towards cementing democracy. Nepal witnessed political instability when Madhesis, who are mostly of Indian origin, had launched a prolonged agitation between September 2015 and February last year against the implementation of the Constitution.

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