[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Languages
Last Updated: Saturday, 28 January 2006, 12:57 GMT
Nepal candidates 'in safe houses'
Sushil Sharma
BBC News, Kathmandu

Soldier
It is not clear how many candidates are under protection
The Nepalese authorities say they have put scores of candidates for local elections in safe locations to protect them from Maoist rebels.

The rebels have threatened to target candidates. Neither the rebels nor Nepal's opposition political parties recognise the validity of the polls.

Last week the rebels shot dead one candidate and kidnapped another.

The rebels and the opposition parties have condemned King Gyanendra for seizing absolute power last year.

Uncontested

The number of the candidates kept in heavy-security in public buildings is not clear.

Pro-democracy protesters burn a tyre in Kathmandu
Pro-democracy protesters calling for a boycott of the polls

But they are believed to number in the hundreds across the country.

In the southern town of Janakpurdham, more than 70 candidates are being kept in a government training centre.

Three-thousand-seven-hundred people filed nominations for 4,100 seats.

That means that some seats will have just one candidate standing unopposed and others will be completely uncontested.

The elections are due to be held on 8 February.

Street protests

The main opposition parties and the Maoist rebels have urged voters to boycott the polls.

King Gyanendra
The king seized power on 1 February, 2005

They say that the polls are aimed at legitimising what they call an illegitimate royal regime.

The opposition parties, working in a seven-party alliance, have vowed to step up street protests in support of the boycott.

The authorities said that the municipal polls will pave the way for parliamentary polls.

King Gyanendra has pledged to hold the parliamentary elections by the middle of 2007.

Escalation

In the latest violence in the country, government troops killed at least 11 rebels in overnight clashes in the eastern hill district, Bhojpur, the authorities say.

They say two policemen were also killed in the fighting. The clashes followed a rebel attack on a security base camp.

Violence has escalated across Nepal after the rebels ended a four-month unilateral ceasefire early this month.

More than 12,000 people have died in the 10-year Maoist insurgency aimed at replacing the monarchy with a communist republic.


RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific