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Nepal: credible Constituent Assembly poll within reach, says top UN envoy

Nepal: credible Constituent Assembly poll within reach, says top UN envoy

The top United Nations official in Nepal has said that a credible Constituent Assembly election, which was postponed twice last year and is vital to the country’s peace process, is within reach.

Ian Martin, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, said the election, now scheduled to be held on 10 April, “is a key step in the peace process and a means to consolidating democracy, stability and development in Nepal.”

Once elected, the Assembly is supposed to draft a new constitution for Nepal, where an estimated 13,000 people were killed during the decade-long civil conflict that formally ended when the Government and Maoists signed a peace accord in 2006.

“I do believe that a credible and inclusive Constituent Assembly election is within reach,” Mr. Martin, who is head of the UN Mission in Nepal (UNMIN), said at a press conference today in Kathmandu before leaving for New York to brief the Security Council on the latest situation in the South Asian nation. “It is what the people of Nepal tell us they want; and I believe that it will receive international support, including that of the UN Security Council.

“But achieving it still depends on the commitment and wisdom of Nepali political and community leaders to address outstanding differences and grievances through dialogue, and on their action to bring about a climate of security for voters and political actors in all parts of the country,” he added.

Mr. Martin noted that the inclusion of traditionally marginalized groups in the electoral process is a key concern. “The international community wants to be assisting and monitoring an electoral process which has the fullest credibility and participation among all groups in Nepal,” he stressed.

In addition to the upcoming election, the Special Representative said he also expects to brief the Council on the implementation of the agreement reached last month by the Nepalese Government’s Seven-Party Alliance on key issues of the country’s transition to peace and which paved the way for the holding the Constituent Assembly election, as well as progress regarding UNMIN’s arms monitoring responsibilities.

In a report issued last week, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has proposed extending UNMIN’s mandate – which is due to expire on 22 January – for another six months so that it can continue to support the country’s peace process, particularly the holding of the Constituent Assembly election.