In yet another instance of Nepal’s hardening stance on Tibetan refugees, police here interrupted voting to elect the next Tibetan government in exile on Sunday.
Policemen stormed voting places at several locations in Kathmandu Valley and took away ballot boxes midway through polling.
Tibetan refugees in Kathmandu and nearby places were taking part in primary polls to nominate candidates for the post of prime minister and other members of the government in exile.
The polling will culminate in a general election next year when Tibetan refugees would elect the third directly elected PM of the government in exile and also members of parliament. Nearly 80,000 Tibetan refugees residing in Nepal, India, Bhutan and other countries who are eligible to cast their ballot would take part in the election. Nepal is home to nearly 20,000 Tibetan refugees most of whom stay in the Kathmandu Valley.
Polling started on Sunday at 8:30 am and was to end at 5:30 in the evening when teams of Nepal Police personnel reached the booths and took away the ballot boxes.
“Around 30 policemen came to Boudha and took away the ballot boxes at 4:15 pm,” said Tsering Thondup, welfare officer of refugees at Jorpatti and Boudha areas while talking to HT. Ten minutes earlier, another team of policemen reached the Swayambhunath monastery polling booth and took away the ballot boxes. “Police teams reached booths at Jwalakhel and Lalitpur too and stopped polling. They didn’t take away the ballot boxes from there,” said Thondup.
The Republica daily quoted a statement issued by the home ministry which stated that the action was taken as the polling “violated Nepal’s foreign policy and existing laws of the host country.”
Nepal advocates a One China Policy and is against use of its soil for any anti-China activities. Sunday’s action comes at a time when the country urged by the Chinese authorities has initiated strong measures to foil attempts by Tibetan refugees to enter Nepal.