CPN-Maoist cadres vandalize Baglung Election Office
BAGLUNG, March 28: A group of masked CPN-Maoist cadres vandalized District Election Office in Baglung on Thursday. The cadres covering their faces barged into the office and started vandalizing computers, photocopy machines, printers or whatever they get, District Election Officer Tol Raj Upadhyay said.
Meanwhile, police have detained CPN-Maoist District In-charge Tek Bahadur KC, District Secretary Gamnath Gaire for interrogation. Chief District Officer Mahadev Pantha said that they are discussing over the issue with district-level leaders of the party. Earlier on Wednesday, addressing a program in the district CPN-Maoist Secretary Dev Gurung warned that his party would not let Constituent Assembly elections to be held at any cost.
The government needs to reach out to parties opposed to the elections-Kantipur editorial
The entire political class and the government are gearing up for elections. The parties are discussing their electoral strategy and possible alliances. The Election Commission now has commissioners and is busy updating the voter roll. Amendments required to the electoral legislation are also being discussed. However, there has been no formal announcement of an election date so far. Many politicians privately say that elections are not possible in June but will be held in November.
The Chief Election Commissioner has said that the date should be announced only after all factors are considered and all sides are certain that elections can be held. This is a pragmatic move. The most essential thing is to stage preparations in a way that ensure orderly and peaceful elections where no eligible voter is disenfranchised. If that makes June elections difficult, parties need to put their heads together and draw up a clear election roadmap, with realistic deadlines.
In the meantime, there is one factor that is particularly worrisome. The Mohan Baidya-led CPN-Maoist has been obstructing the updating of voter rolls in various districts across the country. Its cadres have been seizing laptops and documents from election officials. This has been going on for some days now. But the major political parties have not commented on this. The government, too, doesn’t seem to have taken any step to prevent this from happening.
If credible elections are to be held—whether in June or in November—it is essential that the entire election process is seen as credible. It is necessary to ensure that citizens are allowed to have their names registered without fear of reprisal. In addition, if the CPN-Maoist succeeds in obstructing the voter registration drive, they will be further emboldened to up the ante in disrupting other election-related activities and even resorting to greater violence. For this reason, parties need to immediately hold talks with the Baidya Maoists instead of letting this potentially dangerous issue fester.
We suggest that the government and the major parties adopt a patient negotiation strategy. The government needs to take the help of the High Level Political Mechanism and reach out to the disgruntled CPN-Maoist. Given the belligerent stance taken by this party, it is unlikely that it will soon agree to participate in the election process. In the meantime, the Home Ministry should arrange for security for the teams updating the voter rolls. This should not be a very hard thing to do.
In most cases, the presence of some police personnel should deter potential obstructers. Additionally, as this paper has repeatedly said, the government and the parties would do well to immediately reach out to the Janajati and Madhesi groups that remain opposed to elections. So far, the preparations for elections have only been of a technical nature. It is now time to address the more difficult political issues, assuming that the parties are serious about elections.
Baidya cadres busy foiling election plans
KATHMANDU, MAR 28 – Workers of the CPN-Maoist led by Mohan Baidya continued to stymie the ongoing voter registration process in different parts of the country on Wednesday. In districts like Dailekh, Baitadi and Nuwakot, the workers looted devices and documents from electoral office employees. A group of 10 Maoist activists looted a laptop, a portable power generator, a fingerprint device and papers related to voter registration from election officers in Chamunda VDC in Dailekh. Bhakha Bahadur Karki, the district electoral officer, said police recovered the generator but the Maoists made off with the other items.
Harka Bahadur Shahi, a member of the CPN-Maoist Bheri Karnali State Committee, said the devices and documents confiscated from Chamunda VDC were in the party’s custody. In Patan in Baitadi district, CPN-M workers looted the voter name list from election officers, police said. The registration process came to a halt after the incident.
The district electoral office has decided to resume work from Thursday with police personnel guarding the registration centre. In Chaturale VDC in Nuwakot district, a group of men looted a laptop, a webcam and a fingerprint device from the election officers. Krishna Prasad Chapagain of the district electoral office said five unidentified men stormed the house that was lodging two female election officers and robbed them off the equipment.
The men reportedly told the election officers that they had no affiliation with any party. In Kalikot, CPN-M activists obstructed the voter registration drive in Sipkhana and Malkot VDCs, said Bikas Chandra Sharama, the district electoral officer. Following the incident, the electoral office is making preparations to carry on with the work at local police stations, Acting Chief District Officer Yam Bahadur Buda Magar said. Maoists also reportedly obstructed the registration drive in Hanshapur in Gorkha.