International observers urge UCPN(M) to reverse its stand

International observers as well as political and civil society groups in Nepal have called on the Maoists to reverse their decision to walk out of the counting of votes polled in the elections for the second Constituent Assembly, saying it could erode the legitimacy of democracy.

Amid signs of reverses, the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) walked out of the counting centres on Thursday, alleging that the elections were rigged.

‘Polls free, fair’

Earlier, independent observers had certified the elections to be free and fair.

“I am very disappointed to hear of the UCPN(M)’s rejection of the counting process and withdrawal of their party agents,” the former United States President, Jimmy Carter said. “I trust they will respect the will of Nepali voters.”

Mr. Carter called on the UPCN(M) to abstain from violence.

The Nepali Congress and the rival Communist Party of Nepal-United Marxist-Leninist criticised the Maoist decision, noting that they had accepted the popular will despite doing badly in the 2008 elections.

Nepali Congress president Sushil Koirala asked the Maoists to accept the outcome. CPN-UML chairman Jhala Nath Khanal, whose party has done well so far, termed the Maoist move a sign of frustration.

Earlier, after asking its workers to boycott the vote count throughout the country, the UCPN(M) held a press conference at its headquarters in Kathmandu to announce the decision, claiming there was a “conspiracy” against the party.

“The election process is against the people’s mandate, conspiratorial and unexpected,” said chairman Pushpa Kumar Dahal, better known as Prachanda. He demanded a thorough investigation into the process after stopping it immediately.

The UCPN(M)’s decision came more than 24 hours after polling closed and 12 hours after the counting began.

On Tuesday, Mr. Prachanda had praised the people, the Election Commission and the government for successfully conducting the elections.

The counting of ballots for the 240 directly elected seats began a few hours after the elections closed at 5 p.m. on Tuesday. Counting for the 335 seats under the proportional representation system in the 601-member assembly would begin later. Twenty-six members will be nominated.

Keywords: Nepal elections