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Maoist parties obstruct election campaigning in Nepal

In a violation of people's right to peacefully gather and their right to free expression, on 22 October 2013 the Nepali Congress party's election program was obstructed at Phidim, district headquarters of Panchthar, a hilly district in eastern Nepal.

Freedom Forum is concerned over the obstruction created by the poll-opposing Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist.

As the 19 November Constituent Assembly election date is drawing closer, many political parties have intensified their election publicity and campaigning across the country.

However, the CPN-Maoist party has imposed hurdles in various places, preventing party leaders and cadres from exercising their right to free speech which is quite an undemocratic practice.

A reporter for the ...Annapurna Post daily in Panchthar, Mr Laxmi Gautam, said, "The CPN-Maoist cadres barricaded the local roads to prevent people from reaching the program venue at Lungrupa in the district; the Nepali Congress party leaders and cadres were finally forced to postpone the event."

This is also a violation of citizens' right to information.

In a separate incident, the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) foiled the election publicity program of a rebel candidate of the same party at Constituency No 10, in Kathmandu district.

According to the 24 October edition of the ...Annapurna Post national daily, Padam Kunwar, rebel candidate to party chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, was organizing an election publicity program at Kirtipur Naya Bazaar of Kathmandu (Constituency No. 10) but he was forced to interrupt the program due to party pressure.

Freedom Forum condemns both of these incidents which blatantly violate citizens' right to freedom of speech. Therefore, both the CPN-Maoist and the UCPN (Maoist) are urged to respect people's political rights and freedom of expression.

Reporter's camera seized, photos deleted

On 20 October, personnel of the Nepal police and army seized a camera from Dhrub Dangal, a reporter with the ...Nagarik daily from Sindhupalchowk, a neighbouring district to the capital city.

Talking to Freedom Forum's media monitoring desk, reporter Dangal said, "I was taking a picture of the Nepal army personnel mobilized recently for election security in the district. But a police officer and a military man seized my camera and forced me to delete [the photos]." The incident occurred in Chautara, district headquarters of Sindhupalchowk district.

"I felt that press freedom is still a dream in our country," said the reporter while sharing his experience of the incident.

The incident is a violation of press freedom. It demonstrates that Nepal's security persons are hostile to media freedom and has hindered people's right to information. Freedom Forum therefore urges the security persons to respect the journalist's right to freely report.

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