Sunday, March 30, 2008

Legal remedy looks distant as poll violence goes on

Razen Manandhar
Kathmandu, March 29:

Though election-related criminal activities are taking place almost every day in different parts of the country, no legal solution has been sought to control them or bring the guilty to the book.

Five persons have been killed and dozens have been injured in the month of March alone; one among the dead being a candidate for the polls.

However, the government has not adopted the usual process of prosecution in any of the cases, says the Election Commission.

“The violence reported from many parts of the country cannot be taken simply as minor incidents of violation of election code. A crime is a crime, be it committed around the election time or at any other time. But we are yet to see any legal action taken against the guilty,” said Election Commissioner Neel Kantha Upreti.

According to him, finalising a murder case in two weeks in our context may not be possible, but steps should be taken to maintain the rule of law and discourage repetition of similar incidents to ensure an environment for impartial polls.
On the EC’s part, Upreti said those involved in criminal activities would be barred from taking part in any election activities, including contesting, for at least six years. The EC can do it only when a person is proved guilty by a court.

Bishwakanta Mainali, the chairman of the Nepal Bar Association, said neither the parties nor the government have been committed to find legal solution to the violent incidents.

“The government can file cases against the accused, whether the case is an election-related violence or not,” he said.

The government is too timid to file cases against the accused, as it fears a negative impact of such a move on the polls. “But this will only encourage a culture of impunity,” he said.

March Details of violence

12: 12 UML cadres and candidate Dev Shakar Paudel beaten up in Ramechhap
13: Six hurt in NC-Tarun Dal clash in Itahari
16: Shooting at NC poll rally in Okhaldhunga
17: 11 NC, 3 UML cadres hurt in Chitwan
18: Police post attacked in Rasuwa
19: Maoist cadres Tek B Gharti and Bhakta Bahadur BK shot dead in Rolpa
- RJN candidate Kamal Adhikari was shot dead in Banke
20: 12 hurt in UML-YCL chash in Dhading
21: Janamorcha Nepal poll campaign disrupted in Khotang
22: Maoist cadre Shivapujan Kurmi shot dead in Kapilvastu -Maoist candidate Sushma Sharma Ghimire attacked in Dang
24: KP Sharma Oli attacked in Jhapa
-Election meeting of RPP-N disrupted in Pokhara
25: 25 hurt in clashes with police in Rupandehi
-UML candidate Rajendra Pande detained in Dhading
26: Maoist cadre Ganga Bhujel died in a clash in Solukhumbu; NC candidate Bal Bahadur KC and others injured
27: 15 NC cadres injured in Dhading
28: 18 injured in NC-UML clash in Dhangadhi

[KATHMANDU, MARCH 30, 2008, Chaitra 17, 2064]

Saturday, March 22, 2008

50,035 can bet their votes won’t go waste

Razen Manandhar
Kathmandu, March 21:

At least 50,035 voters from Kathmandu constituency no 1 will not have to worry about rigging or booth capturing during the CA polls. The reason: For the first time, these voters will be voting through an Electronic Voting Machine (EVM).

The small equipment, which has a board with list for the parties and their signs along with buttons, guarantees zero per cent error. Votes can be cast every 15 seconds. EVM, is now being introduced in Kathmandu constituency no 1, which comprises ward nos 10, 11, 32 and 34 of the KMC, for the first time. Rigging and booth capturing will not occur because nobody will be able to make any change in the booth once the vote is cast and recorded in the computer, officials at the Election Commission said. India has provided the EVM.

“Voting starts when the machine gives you a green signal. Unlike the conventional ballot papers, a voter does not affix the stamp on the chosen symbol. He will have to push a blue button next to the symbol of his choosing. The machine will give a sound, making sure that the vote has been counted,” said Ishwari Prasad Aryal, EC’s section officer. Aryal said the polling officer does not have to sign on the ballot paper; he just pushes a button to let a voter cast his or her vote.

Seventeen groups have launched a door-to-door campaign to educate the voters and to test how effective the EVM is among the voters. The campaign will go on till April 7.
An EVM has two units — a ballot unit and a control unit. Both are linked with a five-metre cable. Each of the ballot unit can record 2,000 votes. It has space for 16 election symbols but when there are over 16 contenders, up to four such units can be joined.
[ KATHMANDU, MARCH 22, 2008, Chaitra 09, 2064]

Monday, March 03, 2008

CA election will see a sea of observers

Razen Manandhar
Nepal Sadbhawana Party President Anandidevi Singh submitting the closed list of the party’s candidates at the Election Commission in Kantipath, Kathmandu, on Sunday.
Nepal Sadbhawana Party President Anandidevi Singh submitting the closed list of the party’s candidates at the Election Commission in Kantipath, Kathmandu, on Sunday.
Kathmandu, March 2:

Close to 93,000 volunteers will be mobilised as Election Observers (EO) all over the country during the April 10 Constituent Assembly election. The number is 30 times higher than the number of volunteers observing Nepal’s third general election in 1999.
A total of 92,245 Nepalis affiliated with 148 non-government organisations and around 500 foreign observers from seven international organisations will inspect the voting in 9,801 polling centres and over 20,000 polling booths, according to the Election Obeservers’ Resource Centre (EORC) at the Election Commission.
The National Election Monitoring Alliance (NEMA) also plans to mobilise a quarter of the observers. The smallest number of volunteers was offered by the Women Development Self-Employment Training Centre (WDSETC) which has only three observers.
Subodh Raj Pyakurel, head of observers’ group from National Election Monitoring Alliance, said that the observers were selected from 14 federations affiliated to NEMA and they cannot be cadres of any party.
The National Election Monitoring Alliance so far has decided that each of the observers will get Rs 150 for their day-long work.
Usha Khadka, who heads the WDSETC, said that her organisation could offer only three persons because of lack of funds.
Asian Network for Free Elections is mobilising 100 foreign observers, while others are undecided about their numbers.
Dhruba Dhakal, under secretary of EC, said that the number of observers is natural because the interest to be part of the election is growing all over the country.
Asked if the groups of observers could pose problems at polling centres, he said that the returning officers would regulate observers.
“The officer may send them out or ask them to be present following time table if the number is found to be too big to handle,” he said.

Nepali organisations
• National Election Monitoring Alliance (NEMA) - 23,000
• Nepal Election Observation Committee Nepal (NEOC/N) - 20,000
• National Election Observation Committee (NEOC) - 12,700
• Democracy and Election Alliance Nepal (DEAN) - 12,000
• Common Movement for Human Rights Preservation and Peace (CHRP) - 7,500
• CA Election Observation Joint Forum (CAEOF) - 5,000
• General Election Observation Committee (GEOC) - 1,900
• Nepal Bar Association (NBA) - 1,000

International organisations
• The Carter Centre
• Asian Network for Free Elections
• Forum-Asia
• Universal Human Rights Network
• European Observation Mission
• The Asia Foundation
• Socialist International
[ KATHMANDU, MARCH 03, 2008, Falgun 20, 2064]