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Nepal Election Preparations 'In Good Order' - UN

Nepal election preparations 'in good order' - UN envoy

8 April 2008 - The preparations for Thursday's Constituent Assembly polls in Nepal are in good order, despite some serious acts of violence and violations of human rights during the election campaign, according to the top United Nations official there.

Ian Martin, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Nepal, told a news conference today that while there had been clashes and violations of the election Code of Conduct, which had resulted in fatalities, these should not be allowed to distort the whole picture.

"It is important to emphasize that in many districts, many constituencies, peaceful campaigning has been going on throughout this election campaign," Mr. Martin said. "That is a very considerable feat for an election more complicated than any Nepal has carried out before."

Mr. Martin went on to issue five appeals related to the conduct of the election and its aftermath. He called for armed groups who had claimed responsibility for violent acts to call off those efforts; for political parties to respect the election Code of Conduct; for both Government and Maoist army personnel to remain in their barracks or cantonments; for voters not to be influenced by threats or inducements; and for all Nepalis to be patient during the voting and counting.

Questioned by journalists, Mr. Martin said that given Nepal's electoral history, some re-polling was likely, but that he hoped incidents would not be exaggerated and there would be no over-reaction. In that context, he called on the media to be "as objective as it possibly can" in its reporting.

He said that it was "crucial" that election day passed off in such a way that the people of Nepal saw the result as credible, and called for all parties to "respect the result, and also respect the framework within which the decisions are made."

Once elected, the Constituent Assembly will be tasked with drafting a new constitution for the country, which has emerged from a decade-long civil war that claimed an estimated 13,000 lives until the Government and the Maoists signed a peace accord in 2006.

ENDS

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