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Fear of violence grips Nepal ahead of elections

Fear of violence remains a serious threat to free and fair Constituent Assembly (CA) elections in Nepal scheduled for Nov 19.

Kathmandu: Fear of violence remains a serious threat to free and fair Constituent Assembly (CA) elections in Nepal scheduled for Nov 19, political parties and security experts said here Wednesday.

More cases of election-related violence have been reported from different parts of the country, creating a sense of terror and uncertainly among voters. There are various kinds of election-related violence now taking place in the Himalayan country, Xinhua said in a news analysis.

First, there is an increase in clashes between the political parties that have already launched their respective election campaigns and those who are against the election, principally the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-M), a breakaway faction of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-M).

The CPN-M, which opposes the upcoming elections, has launched an anti-election campaign and is engaged in activities aimed at obstructing the election.

In some places, the party`s activists have even attacked cadres of other parties.

The party has also warned people not to vote in the Nov 19 elections, threatening to harm them if they go to vote.

The second kind of violence is among the parties who have opted to join in the elections. The cadres of big parties such as the UCPN-M, Nepali Congress, and Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML) are attacking each other and obstructing each other`s election campaign.

Clashes among the participating parties have escalated in the run-up to the Nov 19 elections, a high-level police official told Xinhua.

The third kind of violence, according to security agencies, is the possible attacks on election candidates by armed outfits in the country`s southern belt, the Terai, which borders India.

There are dozens of armed groups in the southern belt threatening the Nov 19 election polls.

CPN-UML election candidate Mohammad Alam, who was seriously injured when an unidentified gunman shot him in the Terai, died Oct 11.

This incident has raised the sense of insecurity among the election candidates.

An unidentified group Wednesday torched a vehicle used by UCPN-M candidate Bishnu Poudel.

"Some elements are attacking us as our position is getting stronger across the country," said Poudel.

Poudel said such violent activities have raised a question on whether Nepal is really capable of holding free, peaceful and fair elections.

The National Human Right Commission, a constitutional body mandated to monitor the country`s human rights situation, Wednesday urged all political parties not to create terror and violence in the elections.

Security experts have warned that deployment of the national army for the purpose of providing election security would only invite further conflict and terror in the country.

In the 2008 elections, the Nepalese army was not deployed for security purposes but this time, the government has mobilised the army since other security agencies are not sufficient to provide security.

In the 2008 Constituent Assembly election, one candidate was murdered.