US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack claimed that Nepal’s municipal elections called by the King represented a hollow attempt to legitimize his power.
Citing a “clear lack of public support for these elections,” McCormack said “Voter turnout in the capital is estimated at under 25 percent.”
McCormack and other observers conveniently ignore the fact that voter turnout in US municipal elections is often on a par with this election in Nepal, but US voters don’t risk death for daring to vote, as Nepali citizens did.
Nepal’s Maoists, emboldened and supported by an alliance of seven disgruntled political parties, India, the US and UN, had threatened to kill anyone who took part in the municipal vote.
The power-hungry alliance of seven political parties had mismanaged Nepal over many years, fought against the Maoists when it suited them and refused to hold elections and therefore kept themselves in power for seven years.
Finding themselves ousted by the King, the autocratic parties used their relationship with India to clandestinely meet with the Maoists for the sole purpose of opposing the King, discarding all their principles, in an effort to regain power at any cost.
The parties used the old saw “my enemy’s enemy is my friend.” In this case, their new friend is an internationally-recognized terrorist organization.
Seeing the United States government aligning itself with a terrorist organization against the King of Nepal, who is trying to restore democracy to his county is a very strange thing. It is especially strange against the backdrop of the US-led “War on Terror.”
It is easy to understand that the US is opposed to a monarch and prefers to see a democratically elected government in power. What is not easy to understand is the US siding with terrorists and their autocratic supporters and urging the King to negotiate with the terrorists.
The US has its own history of weak voter turnout – and that – without the threat of a gun to voter’s heads. In 2002, National turnout in US Federal elections was a measly 37% and in 1988, it was 36.4%. Clearly, if we take the State Department’s criteria, the US is a state which lacks public support. The US experience in municipal polls is even more dismal, where voter turnout is often under 30%. The Department’s criteria obviosly do not apply to superpowers, whose citizens aren’t exposed to death threats.
In closing his statement, McCormack said “The only way to effectively deal with the threat posed by the Maoists is to restore democracy in Nepal.”
How would McCormack restore democracy in Nepal?
Would he a) turn over the government to the autocratic politicians who aligned themselves with terrorists or b) hold an election.
Let’s review how Nepal reached this point. Seven Nepali parties ruled Nepal and treated it like their personal property, lining their own pockets rather than acting as the servants of the people. They could not control the Maoists and refused to hold elections, preventing Nepalis from exercising their democratic right to vote. The King dissolved the parliament because the politicians could not govern. The King announced municipal elections, for February 8th. The ousted parties teamed up with their arch-enemies, the terrorist Maoists, with the approval and support of India, the US and UN. Less than a month before the election, the Maoists terrorise and kill unarmed policemen, instilling more fear into the population. The autocratic politicians demand a boycott and make threats against citizens. The UN sides with the terrorists, the US and SPA remain silent and the feckless EC criticizes the King. A week before the elections, the Maoists kill candidates and make death threats to the population to stop them voting. The SPA remains silent. The US, after providing massive security for Iraq’s elections, remains silent on Nepal, offering nothing. Election day arrives and many Nepalis brave the Maoist threats, but others are too afraid to vote and some honor the boycott called by the political parties. The US says the failure to vote is caused by the people’s lack of support for the King.
Well, I’m glad I understand that now! The 25% voter turnout has nothing to do with country-wide death threats or calls for a boycott: It’s the King’s fault.
Here is the State Department statement:
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
February 8, 2006
STATEMENT BY SEAN MCCORMACK, SPOKESMAN
Nepal Municipal Elections Lack Public Support
The United States believes Nepal’s municipal elections called by the King today represented a hollow attempt to legitimize his power.
There was a clear lack of public support for these elections. Voter turnout in the capital is estimated at under 25 percent. Outside Kathmandu, turnout was reportedly half that level in some places. The government detained large numbers of political activists before the elections, restricted media and refused to allow independent outside monitors. Maoist intimidation and killing of candidates during the campaign also marred the vote. There is no political cause that justifies the use of violence.
The only way to effectively deal with the threat posed by the Maoists is to restore democracy in Nepal. We call on the King to release all political detainees and initiate a dialogue with the political parties. His continuing refusal to take these steps is leading his country further down the path of violence and disorder.