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Parties divided on vote threshold for PR seat



KATHMANDU: The Unified CPN-Maoist and the fringe parties today objected to the Election Commission’s proposal of requiring one per cent threshold to secure at least one seat in the Constituent Assembly through proportional representation system. On the other hand, the Nepali Congress and CPN-UML backed the EC’s proposal, stating that the proposed threshold would encourage the fringe parties to unite to champion their cause in the Constituent Assembly.

The division came to fore during a meeting called by Chairman of the Interim Council of Ministers, Khil Raj Regmi, who was seeking the parties’ feedback on election related laws forwarded to the government by the Election Commission.

“Majority of the parties opposed the proposal of one per cent threshold and we also want it removed from the ordinance,” said UCPN-Maoist leader Krishna Bahadur Mahara. He said UCPN-M and the fringe maintained that no new provision should be included in the proposed ordinance, as it would invite unnecessary controversy. Mahara said, “We believe more diverse representation will mean more inclusive CA.”

But Agni Kharel, a UML leader, said they were in favour of enacting the one per cent threshold in the PR system, arguing that all democratic countries had such a provision, which would encourage the fringe parties to form a unified party based on electoral agenda. Nepali Congress leader Minendra Rijal said the EC proposal would ensure true representation of women, Dalits and marginalised communities in the CA.

At the end of the meeting, government spokesperson and Minister for Information and Communications, Madhav Prasad Paudel, said they were still studying the pros and cons of the threshold proposal and a final decision would be taken after studying the parties’ and EC’s suggestions.

Division on the threshold issue was apparent even in the High Level Political Committee held today. United Democratic Madhesi Party leader Mahantha Thakur, who attended the HLPC meeting, said at a programme here that two constituents of the four-party mechanism (the UDMF and the UCPN-M) were against the provision of the draft ordinance that proposed threshold for proportional representation seats.

“UCPN-M and UDMF are on one side and the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML on the other,” the Madhesi leader said.

Meanwhile, Central Working Committee members of the Nepali Congress took exception to UCPN-M’s decision to back fringe parties on the issue of threshold. NC leader Ram Sharan Mahat told the CWC meeting today that the UCPN-M was trying to sabotage the election government’s bid to hold polls. “The UCPN-M had supported the threshold earlier but they are now backtracking,” Mahat added.

HLPC to engage protesters

Kathmandu: The High Level Political Committee decided to engage agitating parties – Mohan Baidhya-led CPN-Maoist and Upendra Yadav-led Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum Nepal — to build positive environment for the upcoming polls. According to CPN-UML Vice-chairman Bamdev Gautam, building positive environment for the polls was imperative before declaring a date but if the HLPC wished it to be declared at any cost, they could do so. “But the most important thing is to build positive environment for the polls before declaring a date,” Gautam told mediapersons outside the meeting venue.

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