Muslims demand polls before Ramadan

April 27, 2017

The Himalayan Times, 26th April 2017, Kathmandu

The National Muslims’ Struggle Alliance has urged the government not to hold the elections during the Muslim holy festival of Ramadan.

The NMSA also urged the government to conduct the polls before Ramadan, as over 1.2 million Muslims across the country wouldn’t be able to exercise their franchise if the polls were held during their month-long festival. Ramadan falls from May 27 to June 25 this year. During Ramadan Muslims refrain from eating and drinking from dawn to  dusk.

The government recently announced it would hold the local level polls in two phases — on May 14 in Provinces 3, 4 and 6 and on June 14 in Provinces 1, 2, 5 and 7. Earlier, it was announced that the poll would be held in a single phase on May 14.

“The Muslims observe fast during Ramadan. It will be difficult for them to take part in the poll process,” NMSA Coordinator Shamim Ansari said in a statement today.

“Election should be held before Ramadan by May 24,” he added.

A delegation of NMSA today called on CPN-UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli and UDMF leader Mahantha Thakur separately and submitted memorandums highlighting their concerns. According to Ali, almost 95 per cent Muslims live in the Tarai plains, where the local level polls are scheduled to be held on June 14. As per 2011 census, the Muslims number 4.4 per cent of the total population.

NMSA is an umbrella organisation of 27 Muslims bodies, including political parties’ Muslim wings, religious groups and social organisations.

Spokesperson for the Election Commission Surya Prasad Sharma told this daily that the government decided to hold second phase polls on June 14 and the EC had no right to revise that. Spokesperson for the government and Minister for Information and Communications Surendra Karki didn’t respond to this daily’s repeated attempts to get his take on this matter.

Oli, however, said the government had been insensitive towards the Muslim community by announcing the second phase of polls in the middle of Ramadan.