This Article is From Jan 29, 2018

Nagaland Parties Refuse To Contest Assembly Polls Till Peace Deal Sorted

The declaration by political parties of Nagaland came following a crucial meeting in state capital Kohima, between the tribal civil society groups, who have been pressing upon the Centre to find a solution to the peace process before the elections.

The 60-member Nagaland assembly would go to elections on February 27 (File)

New Delhi: The assembly elections in Nagaland, set to be held on February 27, faced a roadblock today as all political parties in the state signed a joint declaration, refusing to issue tickets or file nominations for the polls.  The declaration came following a crucial meeting in state capital Kohima, between the Naga tribal civil society groups, who have been pressing upon the Centre to find a solution to the vexed peace process before the elections.

Yesterday, all rebel groups, including the NSCN(IM), issued similar declaration of supporting the demand for a solution before the elections are held. The rebel group had said earlier that the elections will create serious obstacles for the peace process.

All political parties have been stepping up the demand on the issue since the elections were announced.

Last week, Naga Hoho, the apex body of all Naga tribes, had openly called for a boycott the assembly elections. The working committee of six Naga National Political Groups also wanted to put the elections on hold till a final solution could be arrived at.

A broad agreement had been worked out between the Centre and the rebel group NSCN(IM) in August 2015, that had outlined the modalities for a peace process. Signed in presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, between the Centre's representative and NSCN(IM), the largest of the six Naga rebel groups, it was hailed as a historic step forward.

But the Naga group later claimed that the Centre had recognised the legal rights of the Nagas and conceded the demand for a Greater Nagaland - an autonomous state that will include parts of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh. As protests erupted across the neighbouring states, the Centre had vehemently denied the claim.

The government said the agreement that was signed was preliminary and there would be future rounds of talks to negotiate on the details.

The NSCN(IM)'s claims also upset the other Naga rebel groups, which had not been part of the 2015 agreement. Last year in May, they met the Central representatives to present their views and later, signed a Memorandum of Understanding  to follow the framework of the peace agreement.