UN mission welcomes announcement of Nepalese election date
The United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) today welcomed the unveiling of a date – 22 November – for the Himalayan country’s Constituent Assembly elections, calling it a critical step forward in the peace process.
The announcement of an election date “indicates the strong commitment of the political parties to work together to fulfil the historic promise to the people of Nepal to form a democratically elected Constituent Assembly,” the Mission said in a press release issued in the capital, Kathmandu.
The Assembly will adopt a new constitution for Nepal, where a decade-long armed conflict that killed some 13,000 people came to a formal end when the Government and the Maoists signed a peace accord last November.
The polls were to have been held in mid-June but had to be postponed because regulations governing the process were not ready. November was the next earliest available date because of the monsoon season and several major national holidays.
UNMIN said it was now essential that all parties committed themselves to ensuring that there is a free and fair atmosphere for the ballot.
“A date is necessary, but not in itself sufficient,” the Mission said. “The parties must now put forward a realistic plan and timetable to achieve rapid progress on simultaneous fronts, both technical and logistical, as well as on political and security issues.
UNMIN stressed the importance of the Interim Government reaching out to historically marginalized groups in Nepal, including Madhesis, Janajatis, Dalits and women, to ensure there is as broad a consensus as possible on the elections.
It added that public security continues to be a key challenge, and called for “the creation of conditions in all districts and villages which allow all parties to conduct their activities from now on without facing intimidation and violence.”
The Mission also noted that it has consistently urged the setting up of a fully independent national monitoring body to support the implementation of the peace process, adding that it remains willing to help such a body.
Meanwhile, the UN Electoral Expert Monitoring Team (EEMT) has wrapped up a two-week visit to Nepal, where the five-member group met with senior Government ministers, parliamentarians, election officials, civil society groups and others.
Appointed by the Secretary-General, the EEMT – which is not part of UNMIN – is tasked with regularly assessing the electoral process to determine whether it is proceeding in a manner which will lead to a result accurately reflecting the will of the Nepalese people.