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Poll security a great concern for candidates, voters

A security officer of Nepal Police stands by the pile of ballot boxes in the premises of Election Commission in Kathmandu. Photo: NMF
A security officer of Nepal Police stands by the pile of ballot boxes in the premises of Election Commission in Kathmandu. Photo: NMF

KATHMANDU, Nepal- Now its only 25 days remaining for the country to vote for new Constituent Assembly (CA). But, still candidates of different political parties and general public are not certain to the poll securities. Political leaders who have links were set out for poll campaigning with security personnels in their personal security. But, receiving PSOs for personal securities is also not the cup of tea for all.

Fear of violence remains a serious threat to free and fair CA elections scheduled for Nov 19, political parties and security experts said at a programme here Wednesday.

More cases of election-related violence have been reported from different parts of the country, creating a sense of terror and uncertainly among voters. There are various kinds of election-related violence now taking place in the country.

There is an increase in clashes between the political parties that have already launched their respective election campaigns and those who are against the election, principally the Mohan Baidya led Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-M), a breakaway faction of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-M).

The CPN-M, which opposes the upcoming elections, has launched an anti-election campaign and is engaged in activities aimed at obstructing the election. The party has called for indefinite general strike throughout the country from Nov 11 targeting the CA elections.

In some places, the party’s activists have even attacked cadres of other parties.

The party cadres vandalized the election campaign vehicle of CPN-UML Secretary Shanker Pokharel in the western district of Dang on Friday morning.

The CPN-Maoist cadres pelted stones at the vehicle (Ba 2 Cha 2734) with Pokharel onboard. Pokharel is the UML candidate from constituency-4.

An unidentified group on last Wednesday had also set a vehicle in election campaign on fire in Pokhara.

According to the security agencies, they are even cautious to the violence among the parties who have opted to join in the elections. The cadres of big parties such as the UCPN-M, Nepali Congress, and Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML) are attacking each other and obstructing each other’s election campaign.

News reports from different parts of the country revealed that clashes among the participating parties have also escalated in the run-up to the elections.

The third kind of violence, according to security agencies, is the possible attacks on election candidates by armed outfits in the country’s southern belt, the Terai, which borders India.

There are dozens of armed groups in the southern belt threatening the Nov 19 election polls.

CPN-UML election candidate Mohammad Alam, who was seriously injured when an unidentified gunman shot him in the Terai, died Oct 11.

This incident has raised the sense of insecurity among the election candidates.

The National Human Right Commission, a constitutional body mandated to monitor the country’s human rights situation, Wednesday urged all political parties not to create terror and violence in the elections.

Security experts have warned that deployment of the national army for the purpose of providing election security would only invite further conflict and terror in the country.

In the 2008 elections, the Nepalese army was not deployed for security purposes but this time, the government has mobilized the army since other security agencies are not sufficient to provide security.

In the first CA elections one candidate was murdered.

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