For the third time, Nepal’s government today postponed the second phase of local elections after the country’s Muslim minority community voiced concern over clashing of the poll date with Ramzan, Cabinet sources said. The Cabinet meeting today has formally decided to hold the second phase of local level elections on June 28.
The Cabinet meeting took the decision after consulting the Election Commission yesterday. The government took the decision stating that the previously declared date of June 23 coincided with the ongoing Ramazan festival the Muslim community is observing. Earlier, the government had announced it would hold the second phase of local elections on June 23, instead of June 14, as per schedule.
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A Muslim delegation yesterday had called on caretaker Prime Minister Prachanda to draw his attention to the Ramzan festival and the inconvenience they could face if elections were held on June 23. The elections — the first at local level in 20 years and a key step in Nepal’s drawn-out peace process that ended a civil war in 2006 — have been beset by delays.
In the beginning the government had announced that the first and the second phase of elections would be held on May 14 but were split into two phases upon objections from the Madhesi.
The first phase went ahead on May 14 but the second was delayed earlier this week. The move to reschedule poll date is aimed at bringing the agitating Madhes-based parties on board the election process. Muslims make up little more than four percent of the population in Hindu-majority Nepal.