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Violence has no place in Nepali election process - UN envoy

31 March 2008 – The top United Nations envoy in Nepal today started a regional tour of the South Asian nation, which is on the verge of historic elections, to check on preparations and stress the responsibility of all parties to shun violence and abide by all agreements for the poll.

“I am glad that efforts are continuing even in the midst of the election campaign to bring about a dialogue between the Government and armed groups,” Ian Martin, the Special Representative of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in Nepal, told journalists in Biratnagar, in the east of the country, where a mosque was bombed on Saturday.

“But I want to make clear that any group which in this election continues to pursue its grievances by violence will lose any sympathy from the international community,” said Mr. Martin, who is devoting five days to a regional tour ahead of the 10 April elections.

He also emphasized that all political parties must respect the electoral code of conduct, which calls for free campaigning throughout the country, and that all armies must abide by provisions for non-interference of troops in the poll, spelled out in the Comprehensive Peace Accord that ended most fighting between the Government and Maoist rebels in 2006.

Mr. Martin also reiterated his strong condemnation of the bomb attack at the Sarauchiya Mosque, and his condolences to the families of those killed and injured.

A UN report released yesterday said that campaigning for the Constituent Assembly election continues in relative calm across much of Nepal, but a significant number of districts have experienced a surge in clashes between different political party supporters.

Once elected, the Constituent Assembly will be tasked with drafting a new constitution for the country, which lost an estimated 13,000 lives in its decade-long civil war.

While in Biratnagar, Mr. Martin held discussions with local administrative and security authorities, district electoral officials and UN colleagues, concerning preparations and conditions for the poll.

He will continue his tour tomorrow, first travelling to the mid-western region of the country tomorrow, and then continuing on to the far-west.



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