The Carter Center, that is here to observe the Constituent Assembly election, says it “strongly condemns” the YCL violence in the hill and mountain districts. The following is a press statement release yesterday:
[A Candidate Killed: An unidentified group shot dead Kamal Prasad Adhikari, a candidate of the National People’s Front Nepal (NPFN) for the CA polls from Banke district constituency-2, on yesterday night. A masked group of around six persons came to Adhikari’s house last night at around 11 at Bethaani in the district and fired four rounds of bullets at him. Jawala Singh -led Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morcha (JTMM-J) has owned up the responsibility of the killing. (more here)
The Carter Center’s international election observation mission in Nepal has observed the pre-electoral environment in the country for the past 14 months. The Center is encouraged by the level of electoral preparations and campaigning presently taking place, as this represents a marked increase from the two previous election periods in June and November 2007.
Meanwhile the European Union has established a mission to observe the Constituent Assembly election and the EU Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) organized a press conference yesterday to let the public know about their presence in Nepal. The head of the mission Jan Mulder, a member of the European Parliament, addressed reporters. The mission will comprise of 120 observers from 22 different EU countries, as well as Norway and Switzerland, a press statement issued at the news conference stated.
A guy who were seated next to Mulder threw a satire to the reporters who came late in the press conference. I agree with him that they should have come in time. I also must tell him to learn a bit about organizing press conference. Just because you are from Europe to “observe” the elections and to “promote” democracy doesn’t mean you can organize good press conferences. I saw Kieran Dwyer of UNMIN in the conference. He might be able to share some of the tricks and skills of having an organized press conference to Anna Owen, the so called press officer of the Mission. Kieran should also tell Anna that she should be responding to emails from reporters because the job of a “press officer” is not just to sit on the dais and point out the reporter to ask the questions. Though I hate the unnecessary bureaucracy that is seen in UNMIN press conference (your bag has to go through metal dictator and you must exchange your ID card with the one they provide for the purpose of press conference), they are good when it comes to the handling inside the hall. I also like them for sending the English transcript of the Q and A though I think the Nepali transcript, which comes late, is useless even for a reporter like me who works for a Nepali language newspaper. Also, a waste of manpower!
The moral of the post is: Those who come to “promote” democracy in a country like Nepal where we have seen historical participation of people in the pro-democracy movements (twice in 16 years) should come to Nepal with some degree of preparation about how you are going to “promote” democracy here. By the way, the Nepali version of the EU EOM press release uses the word “prajatanrta” for “democracy”. The translator seems to have no idea about what happened in April 2006 and there after. Because of the changed context and situation, Nepali people have started using “loktantra” for the word “democracy”. Here is the press release. –DW
Additionally, following the signing of the United Madhesi Democratic Front (UMDF) agreement, the security situation has improved significantly in the Terai, though many districts remain fragile. All across the country, the Center’s long term observers report that the people of Nepal want to participate in the constituent assembly election and expect that a successful election will bring sustainable peace, democracy, and prosperity to Nepal.
However, political parties and the government need to continue and increase activities that reassure voters of their commitment to the April 10 election. Following the two previous postponements, the Nepali public has grown skeptical about the government’s genuine commitment to the April date. Additionally, the Center is deeply concerned by reports of continued Maoist and Young Communist League (YCL) violence in the hill and mountain districts, as well as announced plans to disrupt the election by armed groups in the Terai. The Center strongly condemns these activities and notes their potential to significantly hamper the electoral environment, decrease voter turnout, and call into question the election’s credibility.
With only 22 days remaining before the constituent assembly election, the Carter Center’s international election observation mission in Nepal puts forward the following recommendations in order to ensure a credible and successful electoral process. Specifically, The Carter Center:
• Calls on all parties to sustain their commitment to the April 10 constituent assembly election and increase peaceful campaigning efforts particularly at the village level;
• Urges an immediate cessation of Maoist and YCL violence, threats, and harassment, which have increased in recent weeks and which threaten the credibility of their party, the election, and the peace process;
• Notes concern over reported plans by the Maoists and other parties to mobilize up to 200 supporters per polling station on election day, given the potential for intimidation of voters and conflict between parties;
• Requests the government to fully implement the agreement signed with the UMDF as well as other agreements, including swift action on the provision to create a conducive environment for talks with the armed Madhesi groups in order to ward off their potential to act as spoilers to the process;
• Encourages moderate Madhesi leaders to use their authority to publicly and privately insist that the armed groups cease violence intended to disturb the election;
• Calls on the government to strengthen its support for the Nepal Police and the Armed Police Force in order to facilitate their ability to provide a secure electoral environment, and to implement appropriate security measures in consultation with local community leaders, while sustaining their commitment to the protection of human rights;
• Advises the political parties, the government, and the Election Commission to act strongly on their shared obligation to respect and vigorously enforce the electoral code of conduct;
• Suggests a public and transparent agreement regarding the rules of conduct for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and Nepal Army (NA) during the electoral period in order to address fears that either group will attempt to leave their areas and influence the process;
• Advocates for continued intensive voter education in order to familiarize voters with the purpose of the constituent assembly election and the new electoral system;
• Suggests that the Election Commission and the government clearly and in a coordinated manner explain to the public the post-election transition plan, including the length of time needed to process the election results, the process for forming a government following the election, and the procedure for initiating the work of the constituent assembly;
• Encourages domestic observer networks to rigorously train their observers in order to ensure the presence of an impartial and effective domestic observation effort;
• Calls on the international community to use its collective voice to consistently condemn election-related violence and violations of the electoral code of conduct.