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Controversial EU team postpones poll observation

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EU initiates probe into the team

DHANGADHI, Nov 267: Poll observers deployed from the European Union Election Observation Mission (EUEOM), who have been accused of breaching the poll observation code, have postponed their monitoring activities in Kanchanpur and Kailali districts. 

A core team of the Kathmandu-based European Union itself instructed the poll observers to abandon their activities, informed a highly reliable source. Likewise, a committee formed by the European Union has initiated investigation into the alleged violation by the poll observation team, the source revealed.

The three-member poll observation team deployed to observe poll activities in the districts courted controversy last week for unnecessarily entering court premises and inquiring court officials, which does not fall under the authority of poll observers. The team was subsequently banned from monitoring election-related activities.

The Election Commission (EC) prohibited them from carrying out their duties upon the recommendation of Rajendra Kumar Acharya, chief returning officer of Kanchanpur.

“The team has now abandoned its mission following the instruction of a core committee of Kathmandu-based European Union. It is said that the committee decided to recall the monitoring team after analyzing the issue and situation,” said the source, speaking on condition of anonymity. 

The EU team consists of Larj Goran, Eva Suhonnar and a Nepali multi-lingual translator Puskar Pandey. They met Chief District Officer (CDO), Chief Returning Officer and Election Officer among others of Kailali district before heading to Kanchanpur, where the controversial incident took place.

“It is true that the poll observer team contacted us. But they are not in contact with us anymore,” confirmed CDO Govinda Rijal of Kailali. Republica could not contact the team for comment despite several attempts.

Kanchanpur's Chief Returning Officer Acharya, who had recommended the ban, said the team has stopped its monitoring activities. “I have not seen or heard of the team being involved in monitoring activities in the district recently.”

Acharya defends his decision by saying that the team has hurt the dignity of the court. 
“The monitoring teams only have the right to monitor election-related activities. Only the Supreme Court and High Courts have the right to inquire court officials. The team crossed its limits and hurt the dignity of the court,” he said. 

The action against the EUEOM poll observers has discouraged other members of the European Union's poll observation teams in other districts of Province-7, said Khadak Raj Joshi, regional coordinator of Informal Sector Service Center (INSEC).

“Poll observation teams of European Union in Baitadi, Bajhang among other districts have expressed disappointment,” said Joshi. “If the poll code of conduct has been violated as stated by the chief returning officer, then the team is at fault. One cannot cross its jurisdiction and act unilaterally in the name of poll observation.”

November 27, 2017 09:01 AM