KATHMANDU, May 12: Unlike during the previous elections in Nepal, there won't be many foreign media persons reporting on the upcoming local elections which are taking place nearly after two decades.
So far, only one foreign correspondent has applied for approval to report focusing entirely on the elections slated for May 14, according to the Department of Information (DoI).
“We have received an application only from Aoshitomi Aoyati, a reporter affiliated with NHK Television of Japan. If other foreign reporters are interested, they are yet to apply,” Rameshwor Karki, a DoI official informed Republica.
International media outlets such as BBC World, Associated Press, AFP, Thomson Reuters, Press Photo Agency, Xinhua News Agency and All India Radio are planning to mobilize their local reporters to cover the election activities for them.
Other international media outlets which have huge audience worldwide might completely ignore the election though it is considered as 'the test to implement the newly promulgated constitution' and a backbone for the country's development.
During the previous elections including the Constituent Assembly (CA), renowned media outlets like The Economist, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, among others, had sent their accomplished reporters to cover election activities. This time, however, they seem to be less interested and have shied away from covering the elections.
“Even those international media which are interested to cover the elections will use their local resources and reporters rather than sending their own accomplished reporters, something they do when they deem the coverage to be of high priority,” added Karki.
The upcoming local election, which is just two days away, is being held after a hiatus of nearly 20 years. The election will elect local representatives for various local units. Many believe that the absence of local representatives has hindered developmental works at the local level and has also increased corruption and irregularities.
Like foreign journalists, there will be no foreign poll observers in the local election. The Election Commission (EC) has barred foreign poll observers from monitoring the elections. “Since this is a local election, we have not allowed foreign observers to monitor the election this time. Only local observers will be deployed for the purpose of poll monitoring,” said EC Spokesperson Surya Prasad Sharma.
Sharma said the representatives of the diplomatic missions in Kathmandu can observe the poll activities in the Kathmandu Valley. They, however, are not allowed to go outside Kathmandu. “They should not go outside Kathmandu nor do they need to submit reports to the commission after the election,” he added.
In previous CA elections, Carter Center, Asian Network for Free Elections and other international poll observing groups had monitored the elections.