The Nepalese Church calls for 'free' local elections
by Christopher Sharma

Freedom of choice, without "false guarantees", fundamental to peace and solidarity. The Apostolic Vicar demands respect for voters and peaceful voting.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - A few days ahead of the local elections scheduled for May 14, the Nepalese Catholic Church is calling on all political parties to respect the right of the people to choose their own local leaders. At the same time, the Church encourages everyone to participate in peace and solidarity.

Nepal's Apostolic Vicar Msgr. Paul Simick states: "Nepal is a country full of diversity and voters should be respected in their freedom to choose any party or person. To threaten, create confusion, and give false guarantees with monetary temptations are unhealthy practices in a democratic process. All voters should be free to choose their leaders democratically and peacefully. This helps to promote peace and solidarity between communities. "

The vicariate office appeals to all parties and people to avoid any violence and to pursue peaceful elections for the election of their local leaders.

"We have asked people to choose for themselves and not to resort to false assurances and temptations," says Father Benjamin, parish priest in Kathmandu. "They are free to decide their leaders on the basis of trust and values."

Shyam Shrestha, a member of the parliament and political analyst, states: "In the past, in almost all the elections we were forced or coerced into voting for some parties and were given false reassurances. Even today, half of the voters decide their vote while being offered something to drink and eat with some false promise."

Shrestha continues: "The Nepalese Catholic Church has rightly identified the problem and asked for freedom to choose the right candidate. I totally agree. "

Professor Jitendradwoj Kanda, an expert in political science, argues that "as the Catholic Church has said, people must be mindful of false promises. When the elector's freedom is respected, confessional discrimination and violence diminish peace and solidarity. All minorities are entitled to respect. "

The elections are currently considered at risk by some analysts due to the impeachment motion against Supreme Court President Sushila Karki. Moreover, this electoral appointment has already been a cause of controversy between the parties of the government and those who support the Madhesi and Tharu minorities.