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UNMIN Asks Nepal Government to Construct Realistic Plan and Timetable for CA Elections

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UNMIN (United Nations Mission in Nepal) Chief, Ian Martin in a news conference on 12 June 2007, urged Nepal government to publicise a concrete timetable and planned programmes for the Constituent Assembly (CA) elections to be held in November-end by the eight parties.

UNMIN (United Nations Mission in Nepal) Chief, Ian Martin in a news conference organised to inform about the second-phase verification of Maoist combatants, said that UNMIN’s presence in Nepal and all aspects of its work were for the purpose of assisting in creating a free and fair atmosphere for the CA elections and that it was strongly committed to the achievement of this objective. "The challenges involved in creating satisfactory conditions for a late November election are very considerable. They require not just the fixing of a date, but a realistic plan and timetable to which all parties commit themselves, and which ensures rapid progress on simultaneous fronts," said the UNMIN Chief, adding "Adherence to a clear and achievable plan, encompassing not only the technical and logistical preparations but also political and security issues, is of paramount importance."

He said that the key task of the government is to make the final decision on the electoral system. "This includes the passage of the Constituent Assembly Election Bill defining that system and final decisions regarding constituencies. This requires not only agreement among political parties but historically marginalized groups – Madhesis, Janajatis, Dalits, women and others – require a reasonable degree of assurance that their legitimate demands for representation are being met by the electoral system." Martin also expressed the readiness of UNMIN to activate plans agreed with the Election Commission to deploy United Nations Volunteers (UNVs).

Martin also urged the government to assure public security. He said, "This requires not just a plan for security at the time of the election itself, but the creation of conditions in all districts and villages which allow all parties to conduct their activities from now on without facing intimidation and violence."

Martin also urged Maoists Chairperson Prachanda to make public the instructions under which the Maoist affiliated Young Communist League (YCL) operates, making clear that these are fully in accordance with the law and with human rights standards – in particular, that they "must not use violence of any kind and must assist law enforcement only by acting as citizens cooperating with the police within the law."

Informing about the second-phase verification of the Maoist combatants, Martin said the purpose of the verification is to establish only age and date of recruitment ensuring that all who remain in cantonments were to be recruited to the Maoist army before May 25, 2006. The second-phase verification of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) members is set to begin from Thursday, 14 June. According to him, as soon as the findings of the verification at the first site are complete, they will be discussed with Maoist representatives so that the orderly discharge and reintegration of those who are to leave the cantonments can be carried out quickly.

The UNMIN chief also urged the appointment of members of the National Human Rights Commission, and noted that local peace committees could potentially play an important role in helping to create a climate for a free and fair election.