Nepal

Nepal: Rapid response to election commission

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The overarching objectives of USAID's OTI/Nepal program are to increase access to information and diversify public debate on issues critical to the peace process and democratic norms, and to increase engagement between government, civil society, and communities to support government responsiveness to its diverse constituents.

On November 21, 2006, Nepal's Seven Party Alliance government and the Maoists signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, bringing an end to 11 years of armed insurgency. Both parties have agreed to a timeline and committed to hold Constituent Assembly elections by mid-June 2007. On January 23, 2007, voter registration teams began deploying to the country's 75 districts to begin the voter registration process, which is to last approximately two weeks.

Late in the evening on January 22, OTI/Nepal received an urgent request from the Election Commission for the procurement of equipment essential to the voter registration process. On January 25, within 24 hours of signing an activity agreement with the Election Commission, OTI/Nepal locally procured and delivered 50 low-range printers and 85 toner cartridges and placed an order for the remaining equipment with an international vendor for delivery within two weeks. The printers and cartridges, combined with computers donated by the Danish Embassy, will ensure that each district-level headquarters will have the basic equipment needed to update its voter rolls. The equipment will be used to print voter rolls in the districts, allowing the voter-roll verification process to commence immediately after voter registration is completed. A legitimate and timely voter registration process is critical to moving the peace process forward in a positive direction.

USAID's Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI) is also supporting nationwide television and radio broadcasts of the Election Commission's public service announcements during the voter registration period. OTI/Nepal will continue to work closely with the Election Commission and will coordinate with other donors in order to improve the chances of a successful voter registration campaign and timely Constituent Assembly elections.

For further information, please contact: In Washington: Gordon Shettle, Cognizant Technical Officer, 202-712-1243, gshettle@usaid.gov