EU calls Nepal polls a setback for democracy
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EU calls Nepal polls a setback for democracy

The EU statement came after opposition leader GP Koirala urged international community and the UN to de-recognise the election.

india Updated: Jan 28, 2006 18:56 IST

The European Union has come down heavily on the controversial local elections in Nepal February 8, saying it would be a backward step for democracy.

As less than 15 parties fielded candidates to take part in the municipal elections, EU issued on Friday a strongly-worded statement to the Himalayan Kingdom.

"For the elections to be meaningful it is crucial that they be held in direct consultation with the political parties as part of an exercise to establish a full return to democracy.

"The fact that no such consultation has taken place means that the planned municipal elections will be another step backwards for democracy and are likely to further polarise positions."

The EU statement came after opposition leader and three-time former Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala this week urged the international community and the United Nations to de-recognise the election called by King Gyanendra.

Koirala's Nepali Congress party is boycotting the exercise as part of a seven-party opposition alliance, which says the election is a "farce" by the king who seized absolute power with the help of the army last year to legitimise his "unconstitutional" rule.

Though the election is just 10 days away, the royalist government has kept hundreds of opposition activists imprisoned, curfew remains imposed in several districts and prepaid mobile telephone services have been shut down.

The EU came down on the government's use of force to suppress opposition rallies, saying they were "the Nepali people's exercise of fundamental rights" and violated international conventions.

It has asked the government and security forces to immediately restore all political and civil liberties, free all political prisoners and human rights defenders, and allow political and civil rights freedom of assembly and speech.

The 25-member group also regretted King Gyanendra's refusal to reciprocate the four-month ceasefire called by Maoist insurgents last year and use it to start peace negotiations.

First Published: Jan 28, 2006 11:11 IST