Nepal Maoists blame army, election commission for poll disaster

Kathmandu, Dec 5: The Prachanda-led Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-M) has blamed the army and the election commission for its humiliating defeat in the second Constituent Assembly election held Nov 19.

An internal probe panel formed by the UCPN-Maoist to investigate alleged rigging during the election has indicated the role of the army and the election commission for committing “fraud” and “irregularities”.

The panel led by former minister Barsha Man Pun unveiled its findings Wednesday evening during a press conference held here and blamed state mechanisms like the army, the election commission and government officials for systematically rigging the vote.

The largest party after the 2008 elections, the UCPN-Maoist suffered a humiliating defeat this time and stands a distant third after the Nepali Congress (NC) and Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML).

The Nepalese government and the election commission have already rejected the claim by the Maoists.

“Elections were held largely free and fair and we extended out thanks to the Nepali citizens, political parties, security agencies, civil servants, polls observers and international community who extended generous support to this end,” an official said after a cabinet meeting earlier this week.

The election commission said: “It was a historic election with voting turn out around 79 percent and concluded in very peaceful way.”

The Maoist panel said the systematic election fraud was engineered at three levels – transportation of ballot boxes, their storage and their re-transportation to the counting centres.

“After completing the elections, army officials transported the ballot boxes, kept them for hours in their camp and we suspect that many ballot boxes were swapped during this interval inside the army barracks,” the panel said.

The panel, however, did not provide any substantive evidence to prove the involvement of the army and the election commission in the alleged vote fraud.

“Due to several technical reasons we could not gather all evidence of vote rigging,” the panel said.

“It happened in such way that the general public, intellectuals and international poll observers could not find or sense such rigging,” it added.

Nepal Army spokesperson Brig. Jagadish Chandra Pokhrel told IANS that army does not have a different view from what the government and the election commission have said.

“The election commission and government have made their position clear,” the spokesperson said.

The UCPN-Maoist demanded a high-level independent probe into its charges.

Earlier, as election results were coming out, Prachanda complained of vote fraud and decided to boycott the counting. The party has not accepted the results and is undecided over whether to be part of the new Constituent Assembly process.

However, party insiders said it was not the systematic rigging that led to the party’s defeat.

“A split in party, ambiguous and dubious agendas, lavish lives of party leaders and caders, internal rift and some anti-incumbency factors led the party’s defeat,” said a top leader on condition of anonymity.

IANS