Carters arriving to monitor crucial Nepal polls

April 1st, 2008 - 6:40 pm ICT by admin  

By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, April 1 (IANS) Nobel Peace Prize laureate and former US president Jimmy Carter will be arriving in Nepal April 7 with wife Rosalynn to monitor the historic election next week that could end the Himalayan nation’s nearly 250-year-old monarchy and turn the country into a republic. Carter, whose Carter Center is active in over 70 countries resolving conflicts and fighting diseases, will lead the center’s international election observation delegation at the invitation of the government of Nepal, that also includes the Maoists.

The high-level delegation will include Thailand’s former deputy prime minister Surakiart Sathirathai, the Carter Center said in a statement Tuesday.

The mission will also include more than 60 observers representing over 20 different nationalities deployed throughout the country.

About 128 national organisations and 28 international ones, including teams from the UN, German parliament and EU, will monitor Nepal’s first constituent assembly election, scheduled April 10.

Nepal’s Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala last month wrote to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, inviting him to Nepal to observe the election, which aims to turn Nepal into a constitutional republic.

However, with the twice stalled polls now just a little over a week away, international monitors are still warning of a severe lack of security and growing impunity with which the Maoists are being blamed most for continuing violence.

The Asian Network for Free Elections, that is deploying 100 observers fanned across the five different regions, Tuesday released a pre-election report urging the government to end the culture of impunity for election-related violence.

Adam Cooper of the network said that while violence and intimidation of voters, contestants and even poll officials and observers were going up, the freedom to campaign freely was going down.

Cooper said that central and eastern Terai were found to be the hardest hit.

“There is not the political will at the moment to vigorously pursue those who break the law,” the network said.

The report came even as the three biggest parties signed a pact in the capital, pledging for the umpteenth time to rein in their cadres.

Koirala, who heads the Nepali Congress, Maoist chief Prachanda and Madhav Kumar Nepal, leader of the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist signed a 10-point agreement under pressure from the Election Commission and civil society, agreeing not to incite violence.

While the pact was being signed in Kathmandu, Dadeldhura, the constituency of former prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, remained under curfew as a sequel to clashes.

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