UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
NEPAL: Second election candidate attacked by rebels
KATHMANDU, 30 Jan 2006 (IRIN) - As the royal government prepares for municipal polls scheduled for 8 February, Maoist rebels are intensifying their campaign against the election, which has been boycotted by the Himalayan kingdom’s main political parties.
On Monday the rebels shot Dal Bahadur Rai, a member of the pro-royalist Janmukti Party and mayoral candidate for Lalitpur, a suburb of the capital, Kathmandu. A local human rights group, Insec, reported that he had been hospitalised with serious gunshot wounds.
It’s not the first attack of its kind on election candidates. Bijay Lal Das of the Nepal Sadbhabana Party (NSP) was executed by Maoist gunmen on 22 January in Janakpur, 128 km east of the capital. Several other candidates have been abducted and their properties destroyed, according to national media reports.
The insurgents, who have been waging an armed campaign against the Nepalese government for almost a decade, have been unequivocal in warning candidates not to stand for the election. The threats and violence are working – almost 600 of the 4,146 seats on local administrations won't be contested because there aren't any candidates, Nepalnews.com quoted Tej Muni Bajracharya, a spokesman for the Election Commission (EC), as saying on Sunday in the capital.
The poll has stimulated unprecedented national protest. Since 19 January the government has arrested 1,238 demonstrators, including many human rights activists and journalists, according to Insec. It added that 853 are still in detention centres all around the country.
“This so-called election is a total farce. No citizen or democratic party is willing to participate,” said rights activist Kundan Aryal, who added that the government is putting every citizen’s life at risk by forcing them to vote. The rebels have said they are prepared to attack polling stations on election day.
King Gyanendra said he imposed the state of emergency a year ago to stop the country fragmenting under the rebel insurgency that has killed more than 11,000 people.
The king is ruling the country of 27 million people through a 12-member Council of Ministers. The US, UN and neighbouring India have led calls for an end to emergency restrictions that curb political activity and the media.
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