The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights today congratulated the people of Nepal for yesterday’s successful staging of historic Constituent Assembly elections, saying she particularly welcomed the large and enthusiastic participation of women in the polls.
Louise Arbour issued a statement in Geneva in which she described the elections as “a major stride towards a new future in Nepal in which the rights of all people – including historically marginalized communities – are respected.”
Ms. Arbour commended the authorities for their role in holding “a largely peaceful election process” for the Assembly, which will be responsible for drafting a new constitution, “despite the difficult circumstances. And I trust that all the political parties in Nepal will accept the decision of the electors, whatever it may be.”
Counting has begun in 75 district centres after Nepal’s independent Election Commission transferred ballots from the more than 20,000 polling stations across the country.
Electoral staff with the UN Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) will remain in the regions and districts until the counting is complete, and the monitoring of arms and armies will also continue, UN spokesperson Marie Okabe said.
In her statement Ms. Arbour also voiced deep sadness at the number of deaths that occurred yesterday and during the run-up to the polls. She called on the Government to move swiftly to set up an independent inquiry to investigate the deaths.
UNMIN is in place in the South Asian country to help it recover from a decade-long civil war that claimed an estimated 13,000 lives until the Government and Maoist rebels signed a peace accord in 2006.