UNDP to provide support for credible elections to be held in June

14 Mar 2013

imageChief Justice Khil Raj Regmi (right) taking oath of office from President Dr. Ram Baran Yadav (left). While outgoing Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai (right) and Vice President Parmananda Jha (left)looks on. Photo Credit: Chandra Shekhar Karki

Kathmandu March 14, 2013: The nine-month old political deadlock formally ended in Nepal at midnight Wednesday after major parties signed a deal to hold fresh elections for a Constituent Assembly. Those elections will be held on June 21 under the caretaker government led by the country’s Chief Justice Khil Raj Regmi.

Nepal’s first Constituent Assembly, elected after a peace deal in 2006, was dissolved in May last year after it failed to deliver a constitution despite repeated extensions beyond its original mandate of two years. Although agreements were reached on several major issues, there were irreconcilable differences over federalism. Now the political parties have agreed, that, the Chief Justice will lead a 12-member Interim Council of Ministers for Elections. The council will hold fresh elections for a Constituent Assembly and Legislature-Parliament. The Chief Justice and two ministers were sworn-in Thursday morning by the President Ram Baran Yadav.

 “We are happy that an agreement has been finally reached and that elections have been announced,” said UNDP Country Director Ms. Shoko Noda. “Together with other development partners, we will be supporting the government, especially the Election Commission, to organize a free and credible election.”

The UNDP with financial assistance from the European Union, DFID and other development partners has been providing electoral assistance to strengthen the Election Commission’s ability to hold inclusive and credible elections. This includes the introduction of a modernized voter registration programme with photographs and biometric profiling. As of December 2012, over 10.8 million citizens have been successfully registered under this program. .

This new system will provide clearer identification of voters and reduce the chances of proxy voting.

With the announcement of an election date, the Election Commission is now expected to expedite the voter registration process nationwide to register remaining eligible voters.

“The UNDP foresees more assistance to the Election Commission of Nepal ahead of upcoming elections,” said Mr. Andres Del Castillo, the UNDP’s Manager for Electoral Support Programme in Nepal. “This will include support in voter registration, voter and civic education, operation planning, policy formulation, trainings for the electoral staff and other support as requested."

According to the deal signed on Wednesday voting will take place for 480 seats equally divided into a direct and proportional voting system.

If the new elections are successful, it will provide fresh impetus to the constitution drafting process which has been derailed since May 2012.

Until the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly in May 2012, UNDP had also been assisting lawmakers, political parties and leaders in the constitution drafting process by making available international expertise and experience so that Nepali politicians could make informed choices and decisions in writing an inclusive constitution suited to Nepal.

UNDP will resume its support for the constitution drafting process once a new Constituent Assembly is elected.