US seeks int’l observers’ access to June 14 polls

- Post Report, Kathmandu

May 17, 2017-The United States said on Tuesday that it recognises the efforts of all stakeholders in conducting the first phase of local elections in Nepal, calling for creating necessary conditions to ensure the second phase of polls.

The first round of local level elections, first in 20 years, was held in 34 districts of three provinces--3, 4 and 6--on Sunday, with the Election Commission estimating a 73 percent voter turnout.

“The United States recognises the efforts of all stakeholders, including the Government of Nepal, the Election Commission of Nepal, civil society, political parties and the citizens of Provinces 3, 4, and 6, in conducting what appears to have been a largely peaceful and broadly supported first round of local elections in Nepal,” the Embassy of the United States said in a statement on Tuesday. “We now urge all stakeholders to work to create the necessary conditions to ensure that the people of Provinces 1, 2, 5, and 7 are also given the same opportunity to peacefully exercise their democratic right to elect local representation during the second phase of local elections in June.” The second phase polls are scheduled for June 14.

“The United States strongly encourages the Government of Nepal to permit unrestricted international election observation during second phase of local elections, in order to enable the international community, including accredited diplomats, to observe and offer support to the outcomes of the election,” the embassy added.

The US call for allowing international observers is in line with what the Embassy of the United Kingdom said on Monday. Hailing the first phase of local elections in Nepal, the Embassy of the United Kingdom on Monday had called for allowing international observers during the June 14 polls.

“With less than 30 days before the next poll date, we encourage continued efforts to forge a political agreement that enables the broadest participation of voters in the phase two elections as possible for an inclusive process,” the US embassy statement added.  “This will increase the credibility of the electoral process and strengthen democratic transition across the country.”

Calling on all parties to mutually respect the freedom of peaceful expression and assembly, and individual voters’ rights as laid out in Nepal’s laws and constitution, the US embassy has urged the security forces to exercise restraint and comply with existing national and international standards when carrying out their duties.

“The United States remains committed to working with all stakeholders for a

peaceful, inclusive, broadly-supported, and credible election process,” the statement concluded.

Published: 17-05-2017 07:54

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