Nepal Holds First Local Election in 20 Years

Nepal Holds First Local Election in 20 Years

The ballot papers and boxes have already reached the polling stations. Nepal will be holding the second phase of local election on 14 of June in the province no.1, 2, 5 and 7 but crisis looms over the peaceful conduct of the elections as Madhes-based parties are vowing to disrupt the elections if the constitution amendment is not done.

Kathmandu: Counting of votes in Nepal's first local elections in two decades began on Monday but officials said it could take several days for all the results to be known.

"The first phase of local elections was historic because it took place after many years".

Analysts say the absence of local-level elected government bodies has delayed development work, boosted corruption and undermined efforts to rebuild areas devastated by two earthquakes in 2015, which killed almost 9,000 people and displaced three million.

Nepal has suffered from years of political instability since emerging from a decade-long Maoist insurgency that ended in 2006 and the abolition of the monarchy two years later.

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The long gap between polls has left an institutional void at the local level, which has seen graft become a way of life in Nepal, hampering the delivery of basic services as well as the recovery from a devastating 2015 natural disaster.

Long queues started to formed early outside polling stations in the capital Kathmandu, many eager voters sheltering under umbrellas from the harsh sun.

73% turned out to vote amongst the 49,000 candidates running in the elections.

While the youth vote is seen as key in undermining the grip of the three main political parties, the elderly were also out in force, including an 105-year-old man who cast his ballot in Gorkha, the epicentre of the devastating 2015 quake, according to the election commission. Many registered as independents or with a number of small reformist parties hoping to grab some votes from the traditional political heavyweights. according to AFP.

Madhesis, mostly of Indian-origin, launched a prolonged agitation between September 2015 and February past year against the implementation of the new Constitution which they felt marginalised the Terai community. During the second round, four provinces bordering India will witness polls even as sporadic protests continue against the elections in these provinces.

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