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Nepal: Envoy Speaks Out Against Rally Bombing

Nepal: UN envoy speaks out against bombing of election rally

30 January 2008 - The top United Nations envoy to Nepal strongly condemned today's bomb attack at a rally promoting the upcoming Constituent Assembly elections, saying violence and intimidation are inconsistent with the country's transition to democracy.

Ian Martin, the Secretary-General's Special Representative, decried the attack in Birgunj, on the country's southern border with India, as well as threats and bombings at other recent political rallies.

"Political differences must be resolved through peaceful means," he said in a press statement. "I have no doubts that acts of terror will discredit whatever cause they are claimed to promote with the Nepalese people as well as the international community."

Police are still investigating today's attack, which injured several people, some critically.

Teams from both the UN Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in the country were present at the Birgunj rally and previous events.

The elections for the Assembly - originally scheduled for last year but postponed twice - are now set to be held on 10 April.

Once elected, the body is supposed to draft a new constitution for Nepal, where an estimated 13,000 people were killed during the decade-long civil conflict that formally ended when the Government and Maoists signed a peace accord in 2006.

Last week, Mr. Martin voiced optimism reporters at UN Headquarters in New York that the polls will be staged successfully, given the desire of ordinary Nepalese for peace and democracy and the political leaders' demonstrated capacity for dialogue.

He commended the members of the seven-party Government alliance for reaching consensus after several months of crisis and striking a 23-point agreement last month on cooperation regarding the elections.

But the Special Representative said the inclusion of Nepal's traditionally marginalized groups in the electoral process is central to ensuring that the polls are successful.

ENDS

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