In Nepal, senior UN official voices optimism on political process
The United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs in Kathmandu today voiced optimism about Nepal's upcoming elections and pledged the world body's full support for the process.
Speaking at a press conference, B. Lynn Pascoe, said that “we feel very strongly that the process in Nepal is a very positive one, very optimistic that the process will move forward, and in talking with various groups I am even more optimistic than I was when I came.”
Mr. Pascoe, on a 24-hour visit to Nepal after meetings in Kyrgyzstan, underlined the importance of the election for a Constituent Assembly taking place on time, in November this year. “Every person that I talked to is insistent that that election will go forward, at the time agreed. And we're going to try to do, as the UN, everything that we can possibly do to help make it a huge success,” he said.
“It is critically important to the people of Nepal that their vote be clearly counted, to be very effective, that the election be open and fair and totally transparent, and the United Nations wants to do everything we can to help that to be the case and make sure that is the case.”
Mr. Pascoe met with Nepal's Prime Minister, G. P. Koirala, other major political party leaders, the Foreign Minister, and a number of senior government officials, including the Chief Election Commissioner. In addition, he held meetings with civil society leaders, as well staff of the UN Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) led by Ian Martin, the Secretary-General's Special Representative in the country.
UNMIN is a special political mission established in January this year to support Nepal's peace process by helping to create conditions for the election to take place in a free and fair atmosphere. Over 180 arms monitors are mandated to monitor the arms and armies of the former adversaries, the Maoist army and the Nepal Army, who are confined to cantonments and barracks in the lead-up to the election.
The mission also provides technical support to Nepal's independent Election Commission, and in recent weeks has deployed over 40 electoral advisers to districts across the country to help final preparations for the November election. More electoral staff will arrive in coming weeks.
Mr. Pascoe highlighted the importance of the political leaders of Nepal delivering on their promise to the country's people to hold the election on time. “The parties have promised to elect a Constituent Assembly. I would think that the people in this country are going to hold them to their promise,” he said.
Asked about the security situation, he said that “it is critically important to the people of Nepal...that the election be open and fair and totally transparent...that they go through the process to elect the people in a very fair and open way. That's important - really we are talking about the power of the people.”
The Under-Secretary-General departed Nepal for New York this afternoon.