Carter to observe Nepal polls

Updated 02 April 2013
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Carter to observe Nepal polls

KATMANDU: Former United States President Jimmy Carter said yesterday that his Carter Center will observe elections in Nepal, although opposition parties are threatening to disrupt the vote and the government has been unable to set a date.
Carter, who arrived last week to meet political leaders, said he was asked by the government and political parties to observe the elections initially planned for June but expected to be postponed.
"We don't know yet when the election will be scheduled. It has been considered for the last week of June. I think it is the general consensus, which I share, it will not be possible at this point," Carter told reporters.
"The election commission and the government will decide exactly when the election will be held and how long it will take. It will likely be after the monsoon season, perhaps in November."
A government was appointed by the main political parties last month under the chairmanship of the supreme court chief justice. Its main task was to conduct the election by June but it has so far been unable to fix a date.
Smaller political parties have threatened to disrupt the election, saying they want another government that would have representation from all the political parties to ensure free polls. Those smaller parties called for political demonstrations this week and a general strike on Sunday.
Carter said he heard that election workers who were collecting voters' names had been held captive for hours by supporters of those opposition parties.
"This violence to achieve political goal is completely contrary to the commitment the people of Nepal have made in the last five years," said Carter, who also met the leader of those groups.
Nepal has been struggling with political uncertainty since 2006 when street demonstrations forced then King Gyanendra to give up his authoritarian rule. The Constituent Assembly elected in 2008 abolished the centuries-old monarchy and converted the nation to a republic.
However, no single party was able to achieve a majority in the assembly and successive coalition governments have lasted only a few months.
The Carter Center observed the 2008 election.


Threat ‘acute’ as jihadist attacks double in 2017: Europol

Updated 25 min 21 sec ago
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Threat ‘acute’ as jihadist attacks double in 2017: Europol

THE HAGUE: Militant attacks on European targets more than doubled last year, Europe’s police agency said Wednesday, warning the risk of more unsophisticated attacks by the so-called Daesh” remains acute.”
Last year, a total 33 terror attacks were reported on the continent and Britain 10 of which were successful, killing 62 people, while the rest were foiled or failed, Europol said in a annual report issued in The Hague.

That figure compared with 13 reported attacks in 2016, of which 10 were successful leading to 135 deaths.
However, the “increase in the number of terrorist attacks in 2017 ran parallel to a decrease in sophistication in their preparation and execution,” Europol’s 2018 Terrorism Situation and Trend report said.

This included the attack on London’s Westminster Bridge on March 22 last year and a similar attack on London Bridge two months later when attackers simply drove vehicles into pedestrians and stabbed bystanders with knives, killing 13 people in total and wounding some 98 others.
Extremists who carried out such attacks in the EU in 2017 were mainly home-grown, “meaning that they were radicalized in their country of residence without having traveled to join a terrorist group abroad.”

In many cases “it becomes a form of personal retaliation against the country that they failed to integrate with,” Europol’s counter-terrorism chief Manuel Navarette told journalists ahead of the report’s launch.
However, the May 22, 2017, attack at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, in which 22 people were killed, and an August van attack on tourists at Barcelona’s La Rambla promenade in Spain in which 15 died, were linked to organized terror cells.
The Daesh group in all these cases claimed responsibility for the attacks.
Daesh militants swept across large parts of Syria and neighboring Iraq in 2014, declaring a so-called “caliphate” in areas they controlled.
But the militants have since lost much of that territory to various offensives, in Syria to Russia-backed regime forces and to the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces.
“As Daesh gets weaker, it has been urging its followers to carry out lone actor type attacks in their home countries, rather than guiding them to travel to the so-called caliphate,” Europol said.
But it warned: “The threat of militant attacks in the EU remains acute, as demonstrated by the attacks which took place in 2017.”
“It should be underlined that Daesh, Al-Qaeda and other militant groups continue to pose a major threat. They have the ongoing intent and capability to conduct terrorist attacks in the West,” Europol said.
“It therefore goes without saying that supporting member states to combat terrorism will remain a top priority,” Europol’s new director Catherine De Bolle told journalists.
“To fight terrorism, it is essential to have optimal information exchange and data,” she added.
Europol’s report comes as German police Wednesday announced the arrest of a Tunisian man caught in possession of deadly ricin poison and bomb-making material to be used in a suspected terror attack.