UNMIN's presence in Nepal and all aspects of its work are for the purpose of assisting in creating a free and fair atmosphere for this election, and UNMIN is strongly committed to the achievement of this objective. Now that a date has been set for the election, it is essential that all parties commit themselves to addressing the considerable challenges that remain in order to create a free and fair atmosphere for the ballot. A date is necessary, but not in itself sufficient. The parties must now put forward a realistic plan and timetable to achieve rapid progress on simultaneous fronts, both technical and logistical as well as on political and security issues.
Following the passage of legislation establishing the electoral system, and now the extension of 21 days for the Electoral Constituencies Delimitation Commission to review its report, it is vital that the Interim Government continue to engage in real dialogue with historically marginalised groups - Madhesis, Janajatis, Dalits and women and others. This dialogue is essential to ensure that there is a broad consensus among all elements of the electorate on the electoral system.
Public security continues to be a fundamental challenge. This requires not just a plan for security at the time of the election itself, but the creation of conditions in all districts and villages which allow all parties to conduct their activities from now on without facing intimidation and violence.
UNMIN has consistently stressed the importance of a fully independent national monitoring body to support peace process implementation. A key element of the request of the Government of Nepal and the Maoists to the UN was to assist in monitoring the ceasefire arrangements. UNMIN continues to be willing to provide assistance to such a body, established on a genuinely independent basis.
With the setting of an election date, the Interim Government, political parties and the people of Nepal now enter a new phase of preparations. It is essential that all parties commit themselves to dialogue as the means to work through differences without violence, that the Interim Government take necessary action to guarantee public security through professional law enforcement, and that all parties fulfill their commitments in order to promote an atmosphere of political tolerance in which a conducive climate for the election can be created. A concrete plan of action with benchmarks and a realistic timetable which addresses all these issues is essential to the success of preparations. UNMIN will continue to support this historic process.