Anyone entering Nepal’s through its only international airport in Kathmandu may be forgiven for thinking that the country has a law and order problem. Uniformed army men patrol the parking lot, and the roadway leading to the departure gates, snapping at passengers to hurry on.
“The army has been deployed for the election,” says a taxi driver who says he voted for the Maoist party during the last elections, but does not want to vote this time.
The soldiers at the airport are part of the government efforts to strengthen security for the second Constituent Assembly elections slated for November 19. In addition to the police and the paramilitary, the government plans to deploy 62,000 of them to thwart poll-opposing activities, led by the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-Maoist).
The party stepped up its anti-election disruptions this week, targeting candidates and cadres of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal- Maoist (UCPN-Maoist), from which it split last year. On Friday, the CPN-Maoist supporters injured a UCPN-Maoist candidate in the north-eastern district of Taplejung. He’s been hospitalized. On Dang, a south-western district, they attacked a campaign team belonging to another communist party. And two improvised bombs, planted by unknown group, were found in Siraha, a southern district where the UCPN(Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda” is contesting the elections.
Recent spate of electoral violence has prompted the spokesperson of the UCPN (Maoist) to “retaliate” against attacks. The head of the Election Commission also urged the government to take immediate action against disruptions, and the Home Minister promised tough action against anti-election parties.
According to political analysts, the splinter Maoists’ offensive against Prachanda and his party is driven by revenge. They hold him responsible for the decision to deploy army to hold election at any cost – thereby pitting them against the Maoists if the conflict escalates– and the failure of the talks last month to bring the splinter Maoists on board for elections.