Catholic Church not to take sides in elections, prays for peace

"The Church does not give voting instructions. The faithful are free to choose among the 134 parties running to renew the Constituent Assembly," Bishop Anthony Sharma of Kathmandu said.

ucan
Nepal
Nov 13 2013, 3:14 PM
Catholic Church not to take sides in elections, prays for peace

Following a wave of attacks by extremist groups, Nepal's Catholic Church has called on the faithful to pray that the national elections scheduled for November 19 take place in a peaceful atmosphere.

"The Church does not give voting instructions. The faithful are free to choose among the 134 parties running to renew the Constituent Assembly," Bishop Anthony Sharma of Kathmandu said.

Bishop Sharma stressed on the importance of a new constitution to give voice to religious minorities. The election comes after five years of political chaos in which four coalition governments failed to agree on a democratic constitution after centuries of Hindu monarchy.

The main political parties, the Congress Party (conservative) and the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), have tried during their campaign to reassure the population that once in power they would draft a constitution within a year. "I wonder if that will happen," Bishop Sharma said as he doubts things would change quickly.

"Catholics are a minority among minorities and we are still without a voice," the Bishop of Kathmandu said. Hence, a democratic constitution would be a great opportunity for religious and ethnic minorities if it formally recognised religious freedom and equal treatment of minorities.

Despite extremist threats, most political parties are in favour of electing new leaders and renewing the country's democratic process.

According to the Himalayan Times, Nepal's main national newspaper, extremist groups opposed to voting have carried out recent attacks.

On Sunday, two bombs exploded in Taplejung in the country's northeast just before the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist-Leninist was to hold a conference.

On Saturday night, unknown assailants opened fire on Rajendra Kumar Kiranti, leader of the Maoist party in Sandkhuwasabha district. He was unhurt.

On the same night, a handmade bomb was found at the headquarters of the Communist Party in Ilam district of eastern Nepal. Three more bombs were found and defused on the Mechi-Mahakali highway, which connects eastern and western Nepal.

A convoy carrying Maoist officials including former Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal (aka Prachanda), who was on his way to address election rallies, was targeted.

Nawaraj Silwal, police chief in the eastern region, said that extremists led by former Maoist official Mohan Baidhya were probably involved. They are opposed to democracy and had organised a general strike on Monday against the election.

Source: AsiaNews

Top Stories

Indian Franciscans at the forefront for food security

The concept of “food security", elaborated at the UN, implies that "every person has the amount of food needed every day".