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Statement by Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter in Nepal


In Atlanta: Deborah Hakes, +1 404 420 5124,

In Kathmandu: Darren Nance, +977 1 444 5055/1446,

The people of Nepal have embarked on a remarkable and historic transition. I am proud and grateful to witness parties formerly in conflict demonstrating their commitment to resolving their differences through peaceful means.

I intended to come here this week to observe a constituent assembly election that would allow the Nepali people to select their own representatives to draft a new constitution. This new constitution will be an opportunity to ensure a peaceful, just and democratic Nepal that for the first time in the country's history adequately represents the needs and aspirations of Nepal's diverse population including Madheshis, indigenous people, women, dalits, and others.

However, I am disheartened that despite the people's intense desire to exercise their democratic right to participate in an election, the elections have been twice postponed due to political disagreements among Nepal's leaders.

I have talked to Prime Minister Koirala and other leaders of the major political parties, members of Parliament, members of the Election Commission, Madheshi representatives, prominent members of civil society, leaders of the indigenous nationalities, Chief of the Army Staff, People's Liberation Army deputy commanders, United Nations Mission in Nepal head Ian Martin, and several ambassadors. It has become clear to me that the current political stalemate hinges not only on the issues of the electoral system and the future of the monarchy, but on a deeper underlying mistrust that has arisen among the major political parties.

The mistrust seems to originate in the government's perception that the Maoists are not genuinely interested in participating in a credible democratic election and the Maoists' view that the government is solely interested in preserving the status quo and remaining in power.

Additionally, I believe that this mistrust has been exacerbated by the failure on both sides to implement key provisions of the Comprehensive Peace Accord and subsequent agreements signed with marginalized groups. These promises cannot be separated from the election process and they should be fulfilled in order to rebuild the trust among political leaders.

The following issues merit review and full implementation:

  • The government has promised to pay former combatants who have now been in the cantonments for a year, provide decent living conditions, and make arrangements to assist those discharged to assume normal life. This commitment has not been adequately fulfilled.
  • The Maoists have agreed to account for the funds received for the cantonments and to immediately discharge all minors. This has also not been fulfilled.
  • Additionally, the Maoists have agreed to return all land seized during the conflict. This commitment has not been respected and there are reports that they have recently begun seizing new land. I encourage the Seven Party Alliance (SPA) to create immediately a land commission to oversee the return of property and determine compensation as appropriate.
  • The Maoists have also committed to cease violence and maintain peace around the country. However, Carter Center observers have received frequent reports of violence, harassment and extortion by Maoist cadres and members of the Young Communist League. Such violence is unacceptable and is damaging the image of Maoists at home and abroad. These activities must cease immediately. No other single action would so swiftly indicate to the Nepali people and the international community the Maoists' commitment to genuine participation in the democratic process.
  • The status of people who disappeared during the war is still not known, and compensation for war victims' families is long overdue. I was encouraged to read this morning that the government intends to introduce a bill to make public the status of the disappeared.
  • The momentous agreements signed with the Madheshis, indigenous peoples, and other marginalized groups have yet to be implemented.
  • There has been no promised reform of the Nepal Army, and the committee for the integration and rehabilitation of the combatants of the Maoist army has been inactive.

Additionally, domestic security will need to be strengthened in order to create a conducive environment for the election. Large sections of Nepal, particularly in the Terai, are insecure due to violence by armed groups and a lack of government security presence. It is my hope that the government and the SPA will take specific, effective action in coordination with community leaders to curb this violence.

Currently, nearly all of the leadership's time and energy is occupied solely with the questions of an electoral system and the timing of a declaration of a republic. I am submitting to the political leaders an unofficial compromise proposal on these two issues that may serve as a basis for further discussion. But a successful constituent assembly election and implementation of previous agreements are inextricably linked. The government must demonstrate tangible evidence that steps are being taken to implement these agreements in order to restore the people's confidence in the peaceful political process and to rebuild trust among political leaders.

In the coming days, political parties need to be flexible in seeking a solution to the present political impasse. I have been assured that by December 15 the parties will reach a consensus on the outstanding areas of disagreement and proceed to an election hopefully to be held by mid-April 2008. I directly appeal to the leadership of all political parties to take this historic opportunity to carry the peace process forward to its logical next step: the free and fair election of a constituent assembly within this timeframe.

Despite the current frustration, I remain deeply impressed by the courage and dedication of the Nepali people to resolve their differences peacefully and by the speed with which they have moved from war to peace. The Carter Center will continue to follow this process and I am hopeful that the current impasse will be amicably resolved and will lead to a successful and timely electoral process.

Read more about the Carter Center's work in Nepal

23 November 2007: Nepal Peace Proposal

23 November 2007: Address by Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter to Nepal's Parliament

6 October 2007: Carter Center Statement on the Nepal Election Delay

3 October 2007: Nepal's Peace Process at Critical Juncture; Carter Center Appeals to all Nepali Political Actors to Work Together for Elections

10 August 2007: Carter Center Urges Nepal to Continue Progress for Nov. 22 Elections

16 June 2007: Statement by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter in Nepal

12 June 2007:  Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter to Visit Nepal

8 June 2007: The Carter Center International Election Observation Mission in Nepal: Second Pre-Election Statement

16 April 2007:  Pre-Election Statement: Carter Center Election Observation Mission in Nepal

9 March 2007:  The Carter Center Deploys Election Observers in Nepal

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