Souring relations between Govt-EU

Govt boycotts consultation meeting organized by EU poll observation mission

Published On: March 23, 2018 01:12 PM NPT By: Kosh Raj Koirala  | @KoshRKoirala

KATHMANDU, Mar 23: In a clear manifestation of souring relations between the government and the European Union (EU) in Nepal, government officials including those from the Election Commission (EC) have boycotted a stakeholders meeting organized by the EU Poll Observation mission in Kathmandu on Friday.

Sources familiar with the development said the EU Poll Mission was forced to put off the planned consultation meeting with stakeholders on its report on the recently held parliamentary and provincial assembly polls with some controversial recommendations after the government officials declined to participate in the meeting organized at Hotel Yak and Yeti between 9 AM to 2 PM.

The Poll Observation mission had invited various stakeholders including from Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Election Commission for consultation in its findings. Sources said political leaders and some activists were also among those invited in the program.

The consultation meeting was put off at the eleventh hour after all government officials and Election Commission officials invited declined to attend the meeting, in a sign of their protest.

The Poll Observation mission that released its report on Tuesday amidst a function had drawn flak from various quarters after it recommended excluding Khas/Arya from what it said from quota system. Issuing a press statement on Wednesday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) alleged that such controversial recommendation poses challenge to the constitution promulgated by the sovereign decision of Nepali people.

In the strong-worded statement, the MoFA also asked EU mission to refrain from making such controversial statement, while concluding that some of the recommendations and comments of the report not only undermine the successful holding of smooth, peaceful and impartial elections but also go against the scope and norms of international election observation.

The official statement from the government came after senior leaders of all major parties criticized the EU mission, questioning the real intention of the EU in Nepal. While terming the recommendations "unwarranted", "unnecessary", "inappropriate" and "interventionist", the leaders demanded that the government cautioned the EU to stop planting seeds of division and discord among Nepali people.

In its report, EU EOM also accused EC of not maintaining transparency while conducting the three sets of crucial elections. The mission had stated that the election body's work lacked transparency although it performed its duties impartially and enjoyed public confidence.

The poll observation team also suggested to the election body to 'enhance the transparency of the EC through regular consultations with stakeholders and timely publication of all information of public interest'.

The EC in a separate statement on Thursday termed the report and a press statement issued by the poll observation group as "misleading", "baseless" and goes against the established norms of the international poll observation code of conduct.  While announcing that it "totally rejects" the final poll observation report, the election body accused the EU poll observation mission of breaching the poll observation code of conduct meant for international poll observers and the MoU signed with the EC.

Although the government and all major political parties protested the recommendations made in the report, Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities (NEFIN) and a section of activists had welcomed the recommendations of the report.  Concerned government officials said they have credible evidences how EU mission in Nepal had misled a section of people to disturb communal harmony subsisting in Nepal for ages. "Government will no longer tolerate these kinds of activities. We will take appropriate measures," said the official, asking not to be named.

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