Nepal: UN envoy appeals for end to violence ahead of November polls

Nepal: UN envoy appeals for end to violence ahead of November polls

Special Representative Ian Martin
The top United Nations envoy to Nepal today called for a halt to violence and threats of communal attacks to ensure a “good climate” for the Constituent Assembly elections scheduled for later this year in the Himalayan nation.

“It is very clear that in some districts at the moment the security climate is not conducive for a Constituent Assembly election unless action is taken soon,” the Secretary-General’s Special Representative Ian Martin said at a press briefing in Biratnagar, the eastern regional headquarters of the UN Mission in Nepal (UNMIN).

Mr. Martin, who is the head of UNMIN and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative for Nepal, was on a tour of the region to assess the situation ahead of the polls, which were to have been held in mid-June but were postponed to 22 November due to technical problems and then the onset of the monsoon season. During the course of the visit, he was briefed on preparations for the elections, including security arrangements.

He said it is a “crucial time in the history of 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 late last year.

To create a conducive climate for the elections, Mr. Martin stressed the need for a successful outcome to dialogue with marginalized groups, stating that “it is not going to be possible in the future for groups that have been marginalized in the past to continue to be marginalized.”

“Whether they be Madhesis, or women, or Janajatis, Tharus, Dalits, Limbu – marginalisation will change through the restructuring of the State,” he stated, adding “but that requires a Constituent Assembly election in a good climate.”

Creating a conducive atmosphere for the elections will also require the beginning of election activity at the local level by political parties; dialogue among civil society and political parties to create a context of public security; and then appropriate action by the security forces, Mr. Martin said.

Asked if insecurity would lead to the holding of the election in two stages, Mr. Martin said it was the intention of the Election Commission to hold the election simultaneously in all districts. “I think it would be very undesirable that the election be held in two stages unless that became absolutely essential.”