Top UN envoy hopeful on Nepal polls

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United Nations, Jan 24: United Nations envoy to Nepal Ian Martin has expressed the hope that the twice-delayed Constituent Assembly polls in the Himalayan nation will be held successfully on April 10.

Briefing newspersons at the UN headquarters in New York yesterday, Mr Martin also commended members of the seven-party government alliance for reaching a 23-point agreement last month on cooperation regarding the elections, after months of crisis. The inclusion of Nepal's traditionally marginalised groups in the electoral process was central to ensuring that the polls were staged successfully, he said.

A significant section of the Madhesi, Janajati and Dalit communities felt left out of the last month's agreement, although he noted the alliance had indicated its willingness to hold dialogue with the leaders of those communities and with armed groups operating in the country's eastern and central Terai regions, he added.

''It ought to be possible to reach a basis of agreement for the participation of all groups in the Constituent Assembly election because there is a common desire that such an election should be held,'' Mr Martin said.

''But to achieve that, the dialogue needs to be urgent, it needs to be real and there needs to be a commitment to implement agreements reached with those groups,'' he added.

The elections for the Constituent Assembly will pave the way for drafting a new constitution for Nepal. The polls were originally scheduled to be held in June last year but had to be postponed because of continuing mistrust between the government and the Communist Party of Nepal.

The eastern and central Terai regions has also been the focus of increased violence, including the killing or abduction of local officials, journalists and others, in recent months.

The Security Council voted unanimously yesterday to extend the mandate of the UN Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) by six months through July 23 and reiterated its support for the 2006 Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended the decade-long civil conflict between the government and the Maoists in which an estimated 13,000 people were killed.

Mr Martin, who is also head of UNMIN, added that for the mission to complete its tasks in the next six months, it was important that more durable and long-term arrangements were established, particularly regarding arms monitoring, so that its activities could be phased out.


UNI

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