UN congrats Nepal for peaceful polls

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United Nations, Apr 12 The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, has congratulated the people of Nepal for the successful holding of Constituent Assembly elections, saying she particularly welcomed the large and enthusiastic participation of women in the polls.

Ms Arbour issued a statement in Geneva, which was made available at UN headquarters here yesterday, in which she described the elections as a major stride towards a new future in Nepal in which the rights of all people including historically marginalised communities are respected. Ms Arbour commended the authorities for their role in holding a largely peaceful election process for the Assembly, which will be responsible for drafting a new constitution, despite the difficult circumstances.

Counting has begun in 75 district centres after Nepal's independent Election Commission transferred ballots from the more than 20,000 polling stations across the country. Final results are expected to come only after a few weeks.

Electoral staff with the UN Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) will remain in the regions and districts until the counting is complete, and the monitoring of arms and armies will also continue, according to UN spokesperson Marie Okabe said.

In her statement Ms Arbour also voiced deep sadness at the number of deaths that occurred on Thursday and during the run-up to the polls. She called on the government to move swiftly to set up an independent inquiry to investigate the deaths.

UNMIN is in place in the Himalayan nation to help it recover from a decade-long civil war that claimed an estimated 13,000 lives until the government and Maoist rebels signed a peace accord in 2006.

UNI

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