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Elections An Opportunity For Nepal

Nepalese people reach out for voter registration forms before the deadline to register for the upcoming Constituent Assembly Election, to be held in November 19, at the Kathmandu District Election Office in Kathmandu July 15, 2013. REUTERS/Navesh Chitraka

The U.S. is committed to helping Nepal at this historic moment.

U.S. Ambassador to Nepal Peter Bodde congratulated Nepal’s Interim Election Council of Ministers for setting a date for elections. In a commentary addressed to the people of Nepal, Ambassador Bodde said, “Whatever your opinion about the accommodations made to reach this point, setting a concrete date for elections is reason enough for celebration.

Elections An Opportunity For Nepal
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At the same time, we should not be complacent. Free, fair, transparent and inclusive elections -- our shared goal -- require much more than just a date. Many preparations are already underway, but a lot of hard work needs to be done between now and November 19.”

The U.S. is committed to helping Nepal at this historic moment. Over the past year, the U.S. government has spent approximately $5.5 million U.S. (485 million Nepalese Rupees) to support Nepal’s democratic institutions and help lay the groundwork for free, fair, and credible elections. The most visible signs of this are the three printing presses that are now ready to print ballots as a result of U.S. assistance provided through the International Foundation for Election Systems (IFES).

Through IFES and other partners, including the National Democratic Institute, The Asia Foundation, and The Carter Center, the United States continues to support voter registration and education, provide technical assistance to Nepal’s Election Commission, and encourage Nepal’s political parties to be more responsive to their constituencies. And as a donor to the Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction-managed Nepal Peace Trust Fund, the U.S. has joined the Government of Nepal to provide support to polling stations and monitoring operations, mobile citizenship-voter registration teams, and election security.

As November 19 approaches, the United States will also work closely with the Election Commission and our international and local partners to help train election personnel and organize voter observation missions. And on election day itself, the United States will support monitoring and evaluation efforts to ensure the polls are free and fair.

“To be clear,” said Ambassador Bodde, “the U.S. does not choose sides, and we do not pick winners. Our focus is on the strength and viability of the electoral process itself.

These are Nepal’s elections, and, ultimately, it is up to the people of this country to ensure that the polls take place on time and credibly represent the will of the Nepali people. . . The foundation is simple -- integrity, civility, and, above all, a commitment to non-violence.”