Two European Union observers barred from monitoring polls

Kathmandu, November 24

The Election Commission has decided to bar two European Union observers from monitoring provincial and parliamentary polls until further decision.

The EC’s decision comes in the wake of a letter written to the poll panel by Kanchanpur’s Chief Returning Officer Rajendra Kumar Acharya, urging the EC to prohibit EU observers from monitoring provincial and parliamentary polls in the district.

“We have decided to call the two observers to Kathmandu for a discussion,” said EC Commissioner Ila Sharma.

Acharya had written to the EC that the EU observers, Lars-Goeran Plagman and Eeva Suhonen, had gone to Kanchanpur District Court on Sunday to enquire about human resources available in the court, acting beyond their jurisdiction.

A source in the EC said Chief Election Commissioner Ayodhi Prasad Yadav today directed chief observer of EU election observation mission to Nepal Željana Zovko to recall the two observers from Kanchanpur.

Issuing a press release, EC Spokesperson Navaraj Dhakal said CEC Yadav discussed the Kanchanpur incident with Zovko.

“During the meeting, the two sides discussed the weaknesses seen during monitoring in Kanchanpur and precautions to be taken in future,” added Dhakal.

In a separate meeting today with Neena Gill, chief of a team of EU Parliament, CEC Yadav said he hoped EU observers would follow Nepal’s laws, election code of conduct and the code of conduct for international observers.

Yesterday, a meeting of the EC’s election code of conduct monitoring committee had concluded that EU observers deployed in Kanchanpur district had violated the mandate given to them.

Kanchanpur is among the 45 districts that go to polls on December 7.

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.