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Published:June 13th, 2007 09:30 EST

Nepal Welcomes Former US President Jimmy Carter

By Subash Lamichhane

Jimmy Carter, the 39th President of United States of America, returned to Nepal after 22 years. He arrived at the Tribhuvan International Airport the afternoon of June 13. Due to security reasons, reporters were not allowed to talk to him. The Government of Nepal has managed every possible security to ensure the safety of the former US president. He will be staying in Nepal for four days.
The main aim of the visit is said to encourage the country`s political leaders to continue on the path of peace`` as they prepare for elections, according to his Carter Center for Human Rights and Democracy.  Mr. Carter is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Girija Prashad Koirala. He is even scheduled to meet the supreme leader of the Communist Party (Maoist), Prachanda.

"Time is diminishing, " UN envoy, Ian Martin, told reporters in the capital, Kathmandu, yesterday. Political parties must fix a date, agree on an electoral system and insure the vote is carried out free of  intimidation and violence.``

The constitutional assembly date is still not fixed; the peace agreement of November, 2006 insured the constitutional assembly which ended a decade-long insurgency. The country is preparing for the election soon, but the time needed for preparation exceeds the time limits allowed.  The communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) has threatened a new campaign of street demonstrations because of delays to the polls.

Nepal is standing at critical situation. Every day there are so many protests. New parties are rising day by day, because Nepal has various ethnic groups. The Terai part of Nepal still has turmoil as there are always the clashes between the members of the Maoist and members of Terai Janaadhikar Forum. The ethnic issue is the main debate these days, and there is always the risk of another civil war. Turmoil and insurgency are sure to happen if the polls are not held at the proper time.

In such situation, this visit of Mr. Jimmy Carter has added a hope that there will be reconciliation between various political parties and that his visit will encourage the political parties to be more sensible and committed to the polls that are going to take place. Mr. Carter will also visit the Electoral Commission of Nepal.

Twenty-two years ago, Mr. Carter arrived in Nepal to visit the Everest Base Camp. His love for the mountains and Nepal is enormous. He is always a good friend of Nepal and all Nepalese people welcome him with a hope that his visit today will help to heal the wounds Nepal is struggling with.

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