Top leaders want rights activists to act as watchdog

Kathmandu, March 31:

Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala, general secretary of the CPN-UML Madhav Kumar Nepal and Maoist chairman Prachanda today asked human rights activists to play a watchdog’s role until the April 10 election.

The leaders asked the rights activists to form a mechanism to monitor cases of killing, abduction, intimidation, confrontations and threats to parties’ candidates and cadres from visiting constituencies in the run-up to the election.

After holding a meeting with the rights activists at PM’s official residence, Baluwatar, UML leader Amrit Kumar Bohara told the reporters that the government and the Election Commission would take legal actions against the violators of the election code as per the recommendations of the rights activists.

The rights activists had demanded written commitment from the leaders of the three major parties to stop any activity violating the election code of conduct. Bohara said the three leaders would issue a joint press statement in this regard following a meeting tomorrow.

During the meeting, Maoist chairman Prachanda is learnt to have told them that he had already instructed his party cadres to immediately stop confrontation and others acts that went against the election code and allow all to freely launch campaigns in all constituencies.

Prachanda is also learnt to have drawn the rights activists’ attention towards their apathy towards the killings of his cadres.

But a UML source said that Prachanda did not take seriously the incidents of confrontations and intimidation carried out by his cadres, saying that they were “minor incidents”.

Talking about the meeting, rights activists Shyam Shrestha said they had reminded the PM, Nepal and Prachanda that the latter were not so serious about conducting the polls in a peaceful manner.

Shrestha said they had asked the leaders to create a peaceful environment so that all the parties, people, cadres and candidates could freely go to all the constituencies with their views, issue a joint statement with a firm commitment to taking action against those violating the election code and accept the results of the election.

Rights activists including Damannath Dhungana, Nilambar Acharya, Padmaratna Tuladhar, Dr Mahesh Maskey, Kanak Mani Dixit, Sushil Pyakurel, Shyam Shrestha, Charan Prasain and CK Lal had called on the leaders raising concerns about growing incidents of violence.