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Nepal Election: UN Unit Urges Respect For Rights

Nepal: UN unit urges respect for human rights as election nears

3 April 2008 - A week ahead of Constituent Assembly elections in Nepal, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in the country is urging all political parties and the Nepalese people to abide by the electoral code of conduct and ensure respect for human rights.

"The human rights relevant to the election include the right to freedom from intimidation and discrimination, as well as freedom of opinion and expression," UN spokesperson Marie Okabe said in New York.

She said that OHCHR stresses that a sincere commitment by the people to respect these rights will create an environment for a successful and credible election.

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

The polls were supposed to be held last year, but had to be delayed several times because of political disputes, and an upsurge of acts of violence in the Terai region and daily clashes between party supporters in March were also threatening to undermine the historic polls.

However, Ian Martin, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's Special Representative to the country yesterday said that security now appears to be under control, after he toured troubled areas of the country and cantonment areas to check on arrangements for the poll.

OHCHR recommends a six-point strategy to ensure respect for human rights in the context of the election, including making sure that voters are free to make choices without fear and that children do not participate in political activities that risk their safety.

In other developments, Mr. Ban has appointed Aracelly Santana of Ecuador as his Deputy Special Representative for Nepal and Deputy Head of the UN Mission in Nepal (UNMIN). Ms. Santana, who will assume her new functions on 21 April, succeeds Tamrat Samuel of Eritrea.

Ms. Santana is currently serving as Chief of Staff in UNMIN after having working in a range of posts since joining the UN in 1980, including positions of responsibility for African and the Americas regions in the Organization's Department of Political Affairs (DPA).


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