Kathmandu, Oct. 3 (Reuters): Nepal’s Cabinet asked King Gyanendra today to delay national elections scheduled for November by a year due to mounting Maoist violence that has threatened to derail the vote.
“The Cabinet has recommended to the king to order fresh elections on November 19, 2003,” a senior Cabinet minister said after a four-hour Cabinet meeting. He said Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba was expected to meet the king and convey the Cabinet decision.
“We hope a royal order will be issued tomorrow,” he added. The king’s approval is seen as a formality under the country’s constitutional monarchy, although it is not guaranteed. Analysts said King Gyanendra could immediately endorse the Cabinet recommendation or consult constitutional experts and political parties first.
It is the first time such a Cabinet recommendation has been made and Nepal’s 1990 constitution was ambiguous, they said.
Key parties urged Deuba yesterday to defer the November 13 poll, saying the security situation was risky because rebels had vowed to disrupt the vote.
More than 5,000 people, most of them guerrillas, have been killed in the six-year revolt — more than 3,000 since peace talks broke down last November.
Deuba dissolved the parliament in May and ordered elections for November, 18 months ahead of schedule, amid a row over the extension of a state of emergency giving sweeping powers to soldiers to crush the revolt.
Maoist rebels have said they would derail the vote and had announced a three-day shutdown during the first round of voting in November.