Parties commit to hold elections in a peaceful manner

Published On: May 11, 2017 02:00 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, May 11: A day after the brutal killing of a cadre of main opposition CPN-UML in Dolakha district, leaders of the major political parties have committed to carry the run-up to the local elections and Sunday's voting in a peaceful manner.  Several cases of clashes and firing have been reported in Rukum, Gorkha and Dolakha among other districts with the elections just around the corner.  

Chiefs of various parties including Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, who were summoned at the Election Commission on Wednesday evening, signed a commitment letter vowing to make the elections peaceful by abiding by the election code of conduct sincerely. 

Considering themselves as key forces to conduct the elections for institutionalizing democracy in the country, the leaders said they are fully committed to hold the elections in a free, fair and credible manner. 

"Election is the foundation of democracy. Considering that only free, fair and credible election supports to strengthen democracy by enchaining governance system, we acknowledge that it is our prime responsibility to arrange local level elections," states the commitment letter signed by major political parties, adding, "We express our commitment to abide by the provisions of the election codes of conduct --Election Code of Conduct-2072 and Election Code of Conduct for Local Level 20173-- introduced by the Election Commission sincerely." 

The joint commitment letter was signed after the ruling and main opposition parties engaged in a verbal war regarding the implementation of the election code of conduct and cases of electoral violence reported in various parts of the country.  

The leaders attending the meeting include PM Dahal, NC President Sher Bahadur Deuba, Naya Shakti Coordinator Baburam Bhattarai, UML Deputy Parliamentary Party Leader Subas Nembang and FSFN leader Rajendra Shrestha among others.

At the meeting, the opposition parties criticized the government for breaching the election code of conduct. They criticized the EC itself of not abiding by the election code of conduct despite of its repeated commitments.  

Soon after the meeting started, Prime Minister Dahal said the government was committed to conduct the elections in a free and fair manner and said the preparations were on track.  Dismayed with PM Dahal's assurance which did not comply with the ground realities, UML leader Subas Nembang objected to the PM's statement accusing the government of breaching the election code of conduct. 

"The way our cadres are killed in Dolakha and the refusal of the local administration to investigate into the case, we are not convinced that the government is following the election code of conduct. Our party cadres were killed while having meal after election campaign," said Nembang, adding, "We are saddened after the police released the arrestees." 

Kul Bahadur Tamang, son of a UML cadre Gore Tamang, who is contesting for the post of ward member of Gaurishankar Rural Municipality-2 in the election, was killed by the Maoists in a clash.

 Another UML cadre sustained severe injuries in the clash. 

In response, Prime Minister Dahal said he was shocked with the incident and will take it seriously. 

At the meeting, former Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai accused PM Dahal of abusing state authority to silence his opponents and misusing state resources to influence the elections in his district. 

"I have already lodged a complaint at the commission after the government released money for development project in my district breaching the election code. But nothing has progressed in holding the wrongdoers accountable for the breach," said Bhattarai.  

UML leaders have also criticized the government of announcing new development projects including construction of four smart cities in Kathmandu Valley, trying to bring budget between the elections and increasing the number of local units to influence voters.  The government plans to conduct elections in two phases -- May 14 and June 14 -- and bring the budget in between on May 29 as provisioned by the constitution. Opposition parties are wary that the government might influences voters by introducing populist budget ahead of the second round of local elections.

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