UK urges PM, Maoists to find ways to hold polls

Kathmandu, September 19:

The visiting UK Minister for Asia, Shahid Malik, today urged Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala and the CPN-Maoist to find ways to hold elections to the Constituent Assembly on November 22.

He also announced a fresh $ 8m British aid for the Nepal Peace Trust Fund (NPTF) that would also include support for the election. This is part of the overall $26m British aid announced earlier this year for NPTF. Malik said the parties, despite the Maoists’ pullout from the government, are committed to the peace process and Constituent Assembly polls.

Stating that credible CA polls would offer the best hope for maintaining peace and development, Malik warned that if the elections were not held on schedule, Nepal would lose confidence in the political and peace processes.

“No party would want that to happen; everyone I met understands that at least the peace process should go on. People have very high expectations, and a free, fair and representative election on November 22 would develop confidence in the political process,” said Malik at a press conference.

He said that the UK wanted to play any role to push people on the track of peace process and added: “When I met PM Koirala and Dr Babu Ram Bhattarai, I spoke to them about the disappointment at the decision of the Maoists to pull-out from the government.”

Malik expressed his confidence that the Prime Minister and CPN-Maoist were committed to making the peace process work. “I am cautiously optimistic that over the coming days and weeks this will be possible. For all political parties, November 22 should not just be about winning elections, but about winning the peace.”

The British minister said peace and development go hand in hand, and urged the government to move forward with both. “The UK is committed to providing support for both in the years ahead. The future of Nepal does not just belong to a elite minority but to all the people,” he said. Malik will leave tomorrow. He met PM Koirala this morning. He also met Minister for Health, Giri Raj Mani Pokhrel, and Minister for Peace and Reconstruction, Ram Chandra Poudel.

Malik meets Bhattarai

KATHMANDU: British Minister for Asia, Shahid Malik, today met Maoist leader Dr Baburam Bhattarai at the latter’s residence in Naya Bazaar. They discussed the latest political development after the Maoists decided to quit the government, according to a release issued by Bhattarai’s personal assistant, Bishwodip Pandey.

The release said Malik said the peace process may get derailed following the Maoist’s decision to quit the government and its announcement of agitation. Malik said his government “would try its best to keep the peace process intact”.

Dr Bhattarai told Malik the peace process would not derail if an accord was reached to declare a republic and all parties agreed to go for polls based on a proportional representation system. — HNS