Officials at Nepal’s home ministry said police were mobilized to foil the nomination of the successors to the Kalon Tripa (Prime Minister), Professor Samdhong Rinpoche, and 44 members of the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile, as it “violated Nepal´s foreign policy and existing laws of the host country”.
Hundreds of Tibetan refugees living in the Kathmandu Valley had gathered to take part in the voting, which began at 9am. Proceedings in Swayambhu and Boudhha were halted at around 4pm – an hour before closing - after police seized the ballot boxes. Tibetan leaders in Jawalakhel had previously agreed not to proceed with the ballot, following police intervention. No arrests were made in connection with the incident.
According to Superintendent Ramesh Kharel - chief of the Metropolitan Police Range Office – officers seized ten ballot boxes from Boudhha and eight from Swaymbhu, after which voters dispersed of their own accord.
In a text message to the Tibet Post International, a Tibetan leader in Kathmandu wrote, “It is totally against human rights as we believe all people should be allowed to vote.”
Nepal’s home ministry last night released a statement saying Nepal always respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of its neighboring countries and is committed not to allow any activities that are detrimental to their interests on its soil. It continued, “The ministry has already instructed local administrations to take action as per the laws of the land against those engaged in such activities.”
According to the Election Commission of the Central Tibetan Administration, 79,449 Tibetans living in exile registered to vote in the preliminary elections. This includes some 20,000 refugees from across Nepal. The results of the preliminary rounds would be compiled after a month since the ballots would be collected from the polling stations.
The police crackdown comes amidst mounting pressure from China to curb ´anti-China activities´ by Tibetans in Nepal. China has grown particularly sensitive since demonstrations were staged in Kathmandu in March 2008 to mark the 50th anniversary of the failed Tibetan uprisings in 1959. However there's no confidential confirmation of the poll disruption whether there is sufficient political pressure or what lies behind the Poll foiling.