Election Violence

The growth in money politics and crime has corresponded with an incremental increase in electoral violence from the 1991 general elections to the 2008 Constituent Assembly elections.

Leading up to the 2008 Constituent Assembly elections, freedom of movement was particularly limited in the southern lowlands, or Tarai, largely because of the increased presence of armed groups, and in some hill and mountain areas mainly because of political party violence, harassment and threats. Violence and harassment by all parties increased in the campaign period directly before the election. Security forces suffered a lack of capacity, authority and public confidence in the pre-election period. Measures to prevent and resolve electoral disputes had been introduced, including laws, rules and regulations mandating codes of conduct and financial disclosure for political parties. However, a number of these provisions have been unsuccessful as neither the Election Commission nor other agencies have the capacity to implement them. The Election Commission of Nepal has come under criticism for not having the regulatory teeth or independence needed to ensure that the incumbent government and political parties do not pursue election strategies that may provoke violent responses.

In 2008 Elections. The campaign has been dogged by violence and intimidation. While the Maoists appear to have been responsible for most assaults on rival candidates, they have had eight of their party workers killed – a fact which the mainstream media has chosen to downplay. Public security has been dismal throughout the ceasefire, and armed groups in the lowlands have carried out killings, bombings and abductions and threatened further violence. The considerable technical challenges of holding an election have been exacerbated by a complex, nearly opaque parallel electoral system that involves three separate means of selecting members of the CA. The widely respected Election Commission, charged with managing all aspects of the exercise, has no experience of logistics. In previous elections, those, along with back-up security, were managed by the army, which the peace agreement has now largely confined to barracks.

In 2013 Elections, Coordination between police, armed police, and the army was necessary to counteract the many threats of violent disruption coming from the 33-party anti-poll alliance led by Mohan Vaidya’s Nepal Communist Party-Maoist (CPN-M). In the run-up to election day, small bombs were set off and fake bombs were placed at strategic crossroads in order to spread fear (but generally placed so as to minimize casualties). A Nepal-wide Bandh (general strike) was called, aiming to shut the whole country down, in order to prevent people from returning home to vote. Some buses were attacked. There was at least one fatality and some were left with permanent injuries. Armed police and soldiers did not enter the polling stations, but they were responsible for moving the sealed ballot boxes to the counting centres in the district headquarters. Security around the counting centre was high and only those with accreditation were allowed near.

There certainly were clashes between different political groups, some serious injuries, and three murders that appear to have been politically motivated. But, all in all, the election passed off more peacefully than any previous election and the bureaucrats and schoolteachers involved were unanimous that it was the best-run Nepali election they had ever experienced.

The 2013 Elections in Nepal, David Gellner, Asian Affairs, 2014

Resources :

LINK : Predicting the Future: Nepal Elections 2013 (Ushaft: 2013)
LINK : Gunmen shoot election candidate in Nepal (New Vision: 2013)
PDF : Electoral Violence and Mitigation Assessment: Nepal (UNDP: 2012)

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