Page last updated at 05:47 GMT, Monday, 7 April 2008 06:47 UK

UN criticises Nepal Maoist party

By Charlie Haviland
BBC News, Kathmandu

Election rally in Nepal
It will be the first election in Nepal since 1999

The UN has called on the Maoist party in Nepal to stop intimidating members of other parties in the run-up to the nationwide elections on Thursday.

Its peace mission in the country, UNMIN, says incidents of obstruction and violence have been increasing as polls draw nearer.

The election is a major part of Nepal's peace process which started when Maoist rebels gave up their armed revolt.

The former rebels are in the government and participating in this election.

Yet the UN peace mission says their activists, including their youth league, have been detaining rival party members.

It said the former rebels continue to assault, obstruct and spread fear among people - UNMIN listed eight episodes from around the country, including beatings.

Enthusiastic electorate

Detonation of bombs by militant groups opposed to the polls has also been increasing, says the UNMIN report.

It says other parties too have been violating the electoral code.

UNMIN has criticised several parties for using children at their rallies, saying they had been paid or given other incentives - it said the Maoists were causing particular concern.

The UN mission also criticised the government army for preparing to carry out a military operation after the Maoists seized two of its plain-clothed personnel, a response the mission said was disproportionate.

The report paints a picture of a messy electoral process plagued by problems often seen in South Asia, such as discrimination against women and low caste people, fear of violence on election day and party attempts to buy votes.

At the same time people are flocking to their native villages which they must do if they are to vote.

The Nepalese are enthusiastic about this first national election in nine years which will choose an assembly to draw up a new constitution.

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