Nepalese elections threatened if violence resurges, says UN team

Nepalese elections threatened if violence resurges, says UN team

UN Electoral Expert Monitoring Team in Nepal
Noting improvements in security, scheduling and inclusiveness as Nepal heads toward historic elections next month, a United Nations monitoring team warned today that resurgent violence could shatter aspirations for a free and fair poll, while the UN mission in the South Asian country expressed deep concern over a candidate’s killing.

Noting improvements in security, scheduling and inclusiveness as Nepal heads toward historic elections next month, a United Nations monitoring team warned today that resurgent violence could shatter aspirations for a free and fair poll, while the UN mission in the South Asian country expressed deep concern over a candidate’s killing.

“It will… be imperative that the Government of Nepal, security forces, political parties, electoral officials, and stakeholders make all efforts to avoid a resurgence of violence,” the United Nations Electoral Expert Monitoring Team (EEMT) said in a statement issued after its fourth visit to assess the process leading to 10 April elections for the Constituent Assembly.

“Every effort should be made to guarantee that the current positive conditions prevail not only before and on Election Day, but also during the counting and announcement of results,” the five-member team, appointed by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and led by Rafael Lopez-Pintor, added.

The UN Mission in Nepal (UNMIN), which helps monitor human rights in the country, said that the killing of Kamal Adhikari, a candidate for the Rastriya Jana Morcha party, took place yesterday evening in the mid-west region.

“Violence and threats against candidates represents a serious obstacle to the creation of a free and fair atmosphere for the election, and all efforts must be made to bring those responsible to justice,” the mission said in a press release.

UNMIN said its officers in the region, together with staff of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), would continue to work in support of an atmosphere conducive for a credible poll.

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

The polls were supposed to be held last year, but had to be delayed several times because of political disputes.

In its statement today, however, the EEMT concluded that the Election Commission was working “under a tight electoral calendar,” even though it is accommodating new nominations in order to widen the participation of candidates.

It said that the signing of agreements between the Government, the United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) and the Federal Republican National Front (FRNF) were fundamental for allowing the reduction of violence in the Terai region.

Compared with the previous visits of the EEMT, the security situation has improved, it said, but stressed that political parties must strictly follow the code of conduct and election norms to maintain the improvement.

“Political parties should refrain from interfering in the administration of the election, especially with regard to the organization of the polls and the provision of security, which are exclusively entrusted to the Election Commission and the security forces respectively,” it said.

The EEMT, whose visit took place between 3 and 17 March, is not part of UNMIN and operates separately from the mission’s Electoral Assistance Office, which provides technical assistance to the Election Commission.