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Respect free, fair and transparent elections in Nepal

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The Constituent Assembly elections in Nepal are seen as a momentous occasion to end the decade-long civil war that has claimed 13,000 lives. FORUM-ASIA expresses concern and condemnation at the destruction and obstacles the elections have faced on this day as polling booths have been vandalised and at least one person has been reported killed.

FORUM-ASIA today joins the international community in awaiting with anticipation Nepal’s Constituent Assembly elections, the first elections to be held in the country since 1999.

FORUM-ASIA notes the significance of these elections as they mark the end of a decade-long civil war that has claimed 13,000 lives. Thus, it calls on authorities in Nepal to ensure that the elections are free, fair, transparent, and properly reflect the true sentiment of the people of Nepal.

FORUM-ASIA also joins the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General in Nepal, Ian Martin, in his appeal for armed groups to call off their violent anti-election campaign; for political parties to fulfil their commitments and respect the election Code of Conduct by avoiding all violence amongst their supporters; for both armies to respect their commitments to remain in their barracks or cantonments respectively; for voters not to be influenced by threats or inducements; and for all people of Nepal to be patient during an inevitably prolonged period as election results come in.

According to up-to-date reports from the Nepal Election Portal, the elections have already faced serious disruptions and the window for voting has still not closed. A voter in the Mahottari district was allegedly killed as an unidentified gunman opened fire at the polling booth, causing chaos. At the polling centre in Arghakhanchi, ballot boxes were allegedly torched by Maoists. Meanwhile, voting was postponed in a number of polling booths in the Mahottari and Chitwan districts after reported disputes between political party representatives in the attempt to capture booths.

Voting began in Nepal today, 10 April 2008, starting from 7am. 17 million people have registered to vote for representatives of the Constituent Assembly, who will draft a new constitution which will hopefully set Nepal firmly towards the path of democracy.