EC urged to bar EU poll observers from Kanchanpur

Kathmandu, November 22

Kanchanpur District Election Office has written to the Election Commission seeking to ban European Union observers from monitoring the upcoming provincial and parliamentary polls in Kanchanpur district. Kanchanpur is among the 45 districts where provincial and parliamentary polls will be held on December 7.

Chief Returning Officer Rajendra Kumar Acharya told THT over phone from Kanchanpur  that EU observers went to Kanchanpur District Court on Sunday to enquire about human resources available in the court, which was beyond their jurisdiction.

“They came to our office and held an interaction with us. Two returning officers were also present there. They left our office satisfied but on Sunday they went to the district court and enquired about the available human resources. They do not have the right to do so,” Acharya said.

He added that only service seekers had the authority to visit the court.

Law students can also visit the court but only after seeking permission from the court, he argued.

Acharya said two EU observers, who were accompanied by a Nepali interpreter,  told the court officials that they  were there as they were one of the stakeholders but if that argument had to be considered valid, then all citizens were stakeholders and the courts could not allow everybody to enter.

“If the EU observers are allowed to visit a district court, tomorrow they will seek to visit installations of security agencies. Can we allow them to do so?” Acharya wondered.

The chief returning officer said his office wrote to the EC seeking to bar EU observers from monitoring polls in Kanchanpur district. “It is up to the EC to take a decision. If the EC wants, it can ban EU observers from monitoring polls across the country,” Acharya added.

EU’s Deputy Chief Observer in Nepal Thomas Boserup told THT that he was going to visit the EC tomorrow and answer any questions that the poll panel had regarding observation of elections. “We observe overall election process, which includes complaints and appeals, and therefore, we also visit courts throughout the country. This is our method of observing the elections,” he said.

Spokesperson for the Election Commission Navaraj Dhakal said the EC had received the letter from Kanchanpur election office and would decide on the matter soon. He said the EC had given permission to 400 foreign observers.

The poll panel has given permission to  four international organisations — the Carter Centre, the European Union, Asian Network for Free Elections and Peru-based Ankawa International — to monitor polls.

The EU observer mission comprises 100 observers.