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Election not Possible without Reliable and Credible Security Arrangement

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Message Prithendra Bahadur Khatri
The Government of Nepal is busy on formulating detailed security strategy for the upcoming Constituent Assembly. In this connection, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) has released four phases of security arrangements that aims to recruit 80,000 temporary security personnel to have a convincing and secured environment for the election. At the same time the MoHA has decided not to mobilize Nepalese Army (NA) during constituent election perhaps with a view to please the Maoists on the latter's request. However, under tremendous pressure from the Maoists, the Maoist-affiliated Young Communist League (YCL) is likely to be employed along with the police force to provide security for CA election.When Home Minister Sitaula was revealing shortfall of security personnel in Kathmandu, Maoist chairperson Prachanda was saying that Maoist-affiliated Young Communist League (YCL) should also be mobilized alongside with the Nepal Police and Armed Police Force during CA election while talking to reporters in Butwal. Prachanda further said that only employing Police forces for the security purpose would be a "suicidal" move. On the contrary, what ordinary Nepali people believe that using political cadres, particularly YCL (which has terrorized ordinary people in different form) as security elements will be more suicidal and dangerous step. The leaders of NCP (UML) and NC (D) has rejected Prachanda's proposal, however, official comments from Nepali Congress is yet to come.Since, Nepalese Army is an apolitical organization Nepal Government employed NA as a reliable and credible security force to conduct free and fair elections in the past. However, at present the government seems firmed on not using NA during constituent assembly. This invariably seems to have two reasons, firstly, Maoists deliberately want to undermine the role and necessity of NA in the systematic and planned way and secondly If NA is to be mobilized during elections, Maoists will have no room for manipulation, which they are in dire need of.It is interesting to note that the Maoists are proposing their politically motivated and armed YCL cadres to be used as security personnel during CA polls. It is yet more interesting that the government plans to recruit 80,000 short term police for election security whilst about the same number of well trained, equipped, experienced and readily available national army are neglected. It is also essential to think that recruiting 80,000 personnel and providing them training and logistic support within short period of time is not a piece of a cake and even if one proceeds on with this impractical idea the consequence will be no less than a fiasco. Therefore, the question arises whether the reliability and credibility of election can be ensured and maintained with such a ridiculous idea, which largely lacks serious homework and preparation. Another important question is how can people be assured of having a free and fair election where their security is to be provided by those political cadres who are widely involved in terrorizing people. Let we not forget here that " Failing to Prepare means preparing to fail" hence a serious thought on the part of Government is must before taking any move that is concerned with the security aspect during CA polls.It seems that Maoists are privileged massive favor from the MoHA and Prachanda becoming very "genius" to offer YCL to provide security for election, while confining NA inside the barracks. If constituent assembly is to be meant only as a power tussle game of eight parties then there is no point of spending billions of rupees to hold elections, rather it can be smoothly done by distributing parliament seats among themselves and draft a new constitution in the way they want. But if the Government really thinks that it wants a free, fair and impartial CA polls where the participation of ordinary citizen is of utmost priority then let there be no mistake that the present Coalition government should heed the real sentiments of people and they should also realize that a large number of Nepali people differs with eight parties' ideology. If the present coalition Government claims to be Democratic one then it cannot neglect People's sentiments rather should respect it and act accordingly.There are scores of security challenges, which will have direct impact on free, fair, impartial and peaceful conduct of upcoming CA election. The Home Minister Sitaula's ultimatum and diktat to agitating Terai factions is likely to fuel Madhesi problem from bad to worst. It is for sure that if the situation in Terai will not improve then holding elections in Terai and expecting positive result is almost next to impossible. Similarly, the Maoists dadagiri in other parts of the country will not contribute to the stable and conducive environment for election so that the people can freely and openly go to polling booth to cast their vote.It is obvious that until and unless a reliable DDR (Disarmament, Demobilization and Re integration) process of Maoists is not done effectively, expectation of having a free and fair constituent assembly is far off to achieve. In the meantime, Maoists are hindering UNMIN to go through its second phase of verification process as per the agreement of peace accord between Maoists and Government. It clearly indicates a bargaining policy of Maoists. Maoist's leadership seems to have confusion over the difference between DDR and Security Sector Reform (SSR), what they have to understand is that SSR cannot be initiated unless DDR process is completed.The UN Mission along with many national and international organizations is likely to involve in monitoring upcoming election. Whole world is watching political development in Nepal. The government must ensure that maximum voters can cast their vote without any fear during CA polls. Reliable, peaceful, conducive and credible security arrangement in the election is the most vital thing for free, fair and impartial election. Employing YCL or other politically affiliated elements will not serve this purpose; rather it will lead to disaster. Even recruiting 80,000 short-term security personnel for election purpose as proposed by Home Minister Sitaula cannot be a justifiable and convincing solution.

If the government is serious about the security arrangement for the constituent assembly in present situation then there cannot be any alternative other than employing NA, an organization that served in the best interest of people and the Nation from past to date.

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