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United States Dismisses Validity of Nepali Municipal Elections

08 February 2006

Calls on Nepali king to release political detainees, open dialogue

Washington -- The United States has dismissed Nepal’s February 8 municipal elections as “a hollow attempt” by King Gyanendra to legitimize his power.

“The government detained large numbers of political activists before the elections, restricted media and refused to allow independent outside monitors,” State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said in a statement released the same day.

He said voter turnout was below 25 percent in many areas and the vote also was marred by violence on the part of Nepal’s Maoist insurgents.  He said the only way to address the Maoist threat is to restore democracy.

“We call on the King to release all political detainees and initiate a dialogue with the political parties,” he said.

Nepal has been in political turmoil since the king dissolved the government, declared a state of emergency and detained several political leaders in February 2005. (See related article.)

Following is the text of McCormack’s statement:

(begin text)

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.

(end text)

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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