Periodic elections constitute the foundation of democracy and franchise is a fundamental right of the citizens. It is impossible to think of a democratic system without regular elections.
In light of this principle, the government has initiated the process to elect people’s representatives beginning with the local level polls and has set a target to conduct the parliamentary polls latest by the end of 2063 BS.
The seven political parties have, however, announced a boycott of the municipal polls slated for February 8 and have been running protests. It is unfortunate on the part of the seven political parties to boycott the polls and even try to disrupt them. How can the parties that claim themselves to be democratic infringe upon citizens’ right to elect their representatives and obstruct a democratic process? The activities of the parties were in sharp contradiction to their oft-repeated assertion to secure people’s rights. Worse still is the silence of the parties in regard to the violent measures of the Maoist terrorists including the assassination of the candidates. Does their silence consolidate the rights of the citizens or indirectly serve the cause of the terrorists?
The nexus between the parties and the Maoists had given moral support to the latter to escalate violence in recent weeks. On Tuesday night, they raided Tansen, the district headquarters of Palpa. The ensuing fight left at least 11 security forces and seven rebels dead. The terrorists set fire to various government offices and even destroyed historically, culturally and archeologically important Tansen Durbar. They also abducted a number of civil servants. The complacent attitude of the parties is largely responsible for the resurgence of violence in the country. Their stance will neither help consolidate the democratic process nor usher in peace in the country.
The parties should understand that an individual reserves the right to take part or stay away from the polls, said Pant. “It’s undemocratic to bar the people from exercising their right to cast vote. And to intimidate citizens who wish to take part in the polls is violation of domestic or international human rights laws, let alone the murder of candidates.”
Asked what would be the best way out of the intensifying crisis, Pant noted, “Those who are mindful of their rights should also recognise and respect the human and political rights of others.” He said the parties need to cooperate with the government to control violence and restore order. “If this happens, it will set the stage for permanent peace in the country.”
The protests of the seven agitating parties are geared towards disrupting the polls and the peoples’ right to exercise their franchise in the municipal elections scheduled for February 8.
Calling for protests to disrupt the polls is a violation of the constitutional rights of the people to contest in the elections and to elect their representatives. The seven political parties might have been tempted to use terror tactics out of their hunger for power.
The present crisis could be resolved through dialogue amongst the major stakeholders by keeping the national interest and restoration of peace and stability in the nation in mind.
It was an individual’s right not to participate in the election but it was against the accepted democratic norms to curtail other’s rights in the pretext of boycotting the polls.
The recent step of the seven political parties has boosted the terrorists’ morale to continue their crimes, he said condemning terrorist violence across the country. The nexus between the Maoist terrorists and the political parties became apparent after the 12-point agreement between them was flashed, he said. Dr. Sangeeta Rayamajhi said that the political parties should think of holding the elections in a free and fair manner and should rather hold talks with the government regarding their disagreement instead of being bent on disrupting the election. Talking of disrupting the polls was absolutely wrong and against their fundamental principles.
“How could they prove that there is no nexus between the seven political parties and the terrorists?” She questioned, condemning the terrorists’ inhuman activities of violence in the present time.
Stressing the importance of dialogue between the political parties and the government to resolve the present crisis. The steps and policies taken by the seven political parties that believe in peaceful democratic process have added fuel to the violence launched by the terrorists.
Ian Martin, Chief of the Nepal-based United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said Free and fair elections are fundamental to human rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “the will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections.”
(Article 21.3) The conditions for free and fair elections in any given context are a matter of legitimate public debate, to which the rights of freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly apply. It is not acceptable for violence or intimidation to be used to disrupt polls even if their legitimacy is disputed, nor for there to be arbitrary arrests of those engaged in peaceful protest.
OHCHR-Nepal responded immediately to the first apparent threat by the CPN (Maoist) against candidates and officials, and promptly condemned the killing of the Mayoral candidate in Janakpur; both statements were widely reported, but unfortunately not in The Rising Nepal. I have again called upon the CPN (Maoist) leadership to state publicly and to all its cadres that it is against its policy for physical action to be taken against any unarmed civilian. High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour welcomed the commitments to respect for human rights and the rule of law made in the letter of understanding signed by the political parties and the CPN(M). I hope and believe that the political parties will continue to press the CPN(M) to respect these commitments. The right to freedom of peaceful assembly must be reconciled with legitimate considerations of public order, and no coercion should be applied to force people to participate in bandhs or other protests, or to prevent them from doing so voluntarily.
The UN Commission on Human Rights last year expressed deep concern about violations of human rights attributed to the security forces, at the same time as it condemned acts of violence against civilians and other criminal acts by the CPN(M). OHCHR-Nepal has consistently condemned Maoist violations, including against the families of security forces personnel, and is working with the security forces to encourage their efforts to implement the commitment to respect human rights and international humanitarian law. Any protest programme should remain peaceful, and the authorities should ensure that the right to freedom of peaceful assembly can be exercised and should release those against whom there are no charges of violence. He said.
Every candidate, whether it be for the post of mayor, deputy mayor, ward chairperson or members, knows that the success of the polls depends on all, including themselves, the people and the political parties. It is this sense of responsibility to the people that the candidates are enthusiastically campaigning for the polls and making their agenda known to the people. Many candidates have been elected unopposed in some of the municipalities across the country, while elections are taking place in most of the 58 municipalities.
Every candidate has spoken of the need for elections as they are the basis of any democratic system. It is a matter of satisfaction to all that the elections that were stalled for three years are finally being held. The strengthening of democracy has already begun, and the people’s wholehearted support of the elections speaks of their maturity unlike the Seven Party Alliance that is shying away from the democratic process.
It should be realised by all that the reactivation process initiated by the successful holding of the municipal polls will pave the way for the parliamentary elections to take place next year. In such a time, when all efforts are underway to hold the election in a fair, free and peaceful environment, the Maoists through their so-called bandh and the Seven Party Alliance through their disruptive activities are trying to create difficulties for the people. But the people are not naive, and they know how to face them.
A fitting reply to the undemocratic forces will be a heavy turnout at the polling booths. The people have realised the hypocrisy of the political parties that speak of working in the interest of the people but, in fact, are creating all the hurdles possible to derail the democratic process. However, with the people’s sentiments against them, the concerned parties have been reduced to non-entities in the real sense.
Now, the victory of the people is the reaffirmation of their faith in democracy. Any attempt to play with the people’s feelings about democracy and upcoming election will prove detrimental to the political parties who do not support the democratic process.
It makes clear that the King as per the roadmap of 1 February (2005), whishes to restore peace and handover power to the elected government. This is the gist of the 1 February address.”
Those who have missed the path should also think about the King’s address.
For the last fifteen years, Nepalese people have not slept. His Majesty has committed the duty of giving relief to the people. If anybody, who doesn’t try to understand the wishes of the people, they will be punished by the people either early or late.” His Majesty the King, in his address to the nation, has indicated the main knot of the problem by urging that the political administrative and civic culture should be guided from the national culture.
Those, who are heavily influenced by foreign cultures, may not digest the King’s address, however, for every nationalist Nepalese, this is the right trek to move forward, writes Janamunch weekly in its editorial. The Rajparishad has called on all the countrymen to fulfil their national responsibility by actively taking part in the upcoming municipal election utilising the inherent rights of a citizen.
The municipal election scheduled to take place on February 8th as per the noble wishes of His Majesty the King is for giving momentum to the overall development of the country through consolidation of democracy and reinstatement of the people’s representatives in the municipalities which has remained without representatives for a long time.
The municipal election has a significant role in the national life of Nepal as it would activate the municipalities which are important units for the local self-governance as wished by the general public and in creating a favourable atmosphere for the parliamentary election to take place in the year 2063 B.S. The Rajparishad also noted that the municipal election would be of assistance in preparing a roadmap for the elected government. The Home Ministry has heartily requested one and all not to go by the threatening, allurement, rumour of anyone or not fall under any kind of illusion and continue, without any fear, their day to day activities including running of the medium of public transport, industry and factories, business and trade and educational institutions.
Vehicles were operated, markets remained opened and activities of the public continued as usual in a majority of the places today and security has been beefed up on the highway, urban areas and other sensitive locations for tomorrow.