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As election in Nepal nears, UN envoy says security appears under control

As election in Nepal nears, UN envoy says security appears under control

Ian Martin visits Maoist cantonment in the Mid-West
On the third stop of his tour of Nepal ahead of historic elections, the United Nations’ top envoy in the south Asian country said that security appears to be under control for the poll, despite recent political violence.

“All the officials that I have talked to with security responsibilities – chief district officers, police, Armed Police Force - have expressed the view that they are able to make adequate security arrangements,” Ian Martin, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative in Nepal, told journalists after he visited a cantonment site for Maoist rebels in the west of the country.

“And in my contacts with representatives of political parties, of civil society, of national election monitoring organisations, almost no one has suggested that the election cannot or should not go ahead, although, of course, there is concern,” he added.

As he has at previous stops, Mr. Martin reiterated that the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) and its regional offices will exert their utmost efforts to make the current electoral process successful.

He also repeated the message that all political parties must respect the code of conduct they all agreed to, which affirms the right to campaign freely without obstruction in any district or village.

In that regard, he welcomed the agreement signed yesterday by the leaders of the three major parties of the governing Seven-Party Alliance. The agreement commits to hold the historic Constituent Assembly election in “a free, impartial and fearless manner.”

Responding to questions about recent reports that some of the Maoist combatants had violated agreements and come out of the cantonment site to campaign, he said that UNMIN investigations had confirmed that “that while there was a problem a little time back, the situation has now improved and free campaigning is going on in the area around the cantonment site.”

He stressed that “UNMIN will do the most it can through its arms monitors to monitor compliance” by both the national and Maoist forces, with their commitments under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended the decade-long civil war in 2006.

Mr. Martin travels to the hill district of Baitadi in the far-western region tomorrow where he will meet local electoral officials and UNMIN electoral advisers before returning to Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu.