On Monday, May 29, the government of Nepal pushed back upcoming elections from June 14 to June 23 in hopes that ethnic Madhes political parties will participate. According to government officials, some but not all of the demands made by the Madhes parties have been or will be met and it is unclear if they will boycott the elections now scheduled for June 23.
Protests and counter-protests related to the upcoming elections, which have been ongoing for several weeks, are likely to escalate in the run-up to election day.
The government has tried (but failed) to amend the constitution and decided to add more local government units to the Terai region, both key demands of the Madhes parties. However, that decision was later blocked by the country's high court. The government has since requested that the court vacate the stay.
Local government elections to elect 744 representatives were scheduled to be held in Nepal in two phases on May 14 and June 14. It is mandatory for Nepal to hold three-tier elections - local, provincial, and central - by January 2018 under the 2015 constitution's provisions. The elections are the first in the country since 1997 and have proven controversial. Election officials decided to hold them in two phases after the disgruntled ethnic Madhes parties recently agreed to participate in the local body elections. The Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha (SLMM) party organized a month-long series of protests in response to the government's original February 21 announcement that elections would be held in May and June. Tensions remain high in the country, particularly in the Terai region where there have been protests, general strikes, and mass meetings.
Individuals present in Nepal ahead of and during the elections are advised to remain vigilant, monitor local media, and avoid all political gatherings as violence may flare up without warning. Follow all instructions as issued by authorities, including travel restrictions.
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