KATMANDU, Nepal — Former US president Jimmy Carter said Saturday he was confident Nepal's long-awaited elections next week would proceed peacefully, even as an attack by anti-poll protestors the same day injured nine, including three children.
Carter, 89, is in Kathmandu to lead a 50-person team from the Atlanta-based Carter Center, who will monitor Tuesday's crucial vote, only the second such polls since a 10-year civil war launched by Maoist rebels ended in 2006.
"We have been very pleased at the preparations for the election," he told reporters in the capital.
"We have great confidence . . . that the people of Nepal will orchestrate a very successful and honest and fair and a peaceful election," he added.
Anti-poll demonstrators who have intensified their campaign to disrupt the November 19 vote hurled a petrol bomb at a passenger bus on the outskirts of the capital late Saturday, a police official said.
"Protestors threw a petrol bomb inside and ran," police spokesman Ganesh K.C. told AFP.
"Nine people have been wounded, including two boys who are 13 and 14, and a five-year-old girl whose injuries are serious," the spokesman said.
The bus had stopped on the highway to pick up passengers traveling south from Kathmandu towards Rautahar district when the incident occurred around seven pm local time, he said.
A string of attacks this week by protestors belonging to a hardline faction of the Maoist party has raised security fears, with many wondering if voters will brave the threat to cast their ballot.
Demonstrators have torched buses and flung explosives at vehicles while police have arrested more than 260 people.
Carter, a 2002 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, met with the hardliners during a visit to Nepal last April and asked them to renounce violence in the run-up to the polls.
The Carter Center monitored Nepal's landmark 2008 constituent assembly polls, which ended royal rule and transformed the country into a secular republic.
Since then, political infighting has confounded efforts to draft a constitution and conclude the peace process, leading to the collapse of Nepal's first constituent assembly in May 2012.
Carter said he planned to meet political leaders and the chief justice of the supreme court, who is heading Nepal's interim administration, before the election.
The 33-party anti-poll alliance, headed by the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-M), says elections cannot be carried out under the interim administration and want the vote to be postponed until a cross-party government is put in place.
In a statement late Friday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged the hardliners to allow the vote to take place "in an atmosphere free of violence and intimidation".
"The secretary general appeals to all stakeholders to conclude these elections peacefully, and to redouble their efforts in the urgent task of constitution-making", the statement said.
Meanwhile, a prominent Maoist party leader, Ram Karki, along with a Maoist election candidate, Keshav Rai, suffered serious injuries in a bus accident Saturday east of Kathmandu that left a total of 30 people hurt, police told AFP.
More than 100 parties, including three major ones — the Unified Marxist-Leninist, the Nepali Congress and the Maoists — are fielding candidates for the 601-seat constituent assembly, which will also serve as a parliament