Brussels, 14 March 2008
Benita Ferrero-Waldner, Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, said: “The elections for the Constituent Assembly are a cornerstone in the peace process in Nepal. The Constituent Assembly will provide the Nepalese population with a forum for further democratic reform of society. Transparent and peaceful elections are of crucial importance at this stage for Nepal. We are committed to support an inclusive democracy in Nepal, and the deployment of an EU Election Observation Mission is a clear signal of our active support and commitment to transparent elections, democratic reform and sustainable peace in Nepal."
The decision to hold elections for a Constituent Assembly is part of the Comprehensive peace agreement signed in November 2006 between the seven-party governing alliance and the Communist Party of Nepal – Maoist (CPN). The peace agreement put an end to a 10-year period of violent conflict in the country, integrating the Maoists into the Parliament and Government of Nepal.
The elections were initially foreseen for June 2007 but had to be postponed due to civilian and political unrest in the country, which has hit in particular the Terai region since early 2007. These tensions underlined the need for enhanced political inclusion in Nepal. The political agreement of 28 February 2008 between the governing parties of Nepal and the United Madhesi Democratic Front could be the starting point for a more inclusive process including peaceful elections and the consecutive democratic reforms.
The Election Observation Mission will consist of a Core Team of 10 experts including the Chief Observer to co-ordinate the assessment of the entire election process. 40 Long Term Observers (LTOs) will be deployed as of 22 March, in order to assess the campaign period, the pre-election preparations around the country and to observe voting, counting and the tabulation of results. Given the expected intensive post-electoral period, the LTOs will remain in the country until 1 May. In addition, over 60 Short-Term Observers (STOs) will be deployed in the main parts of Nepal around election day.
EU Election Observation Missions are an important instrument for building confidence in the democratic processes of a country and are deployed in line with the EU’s commitment to promote democracy, human rights and respect for the rule of law. The EU has made available €2.9 million from the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) for this mission.
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