Nepal votes in fi­nal round of elec­tions

Fi­nal re­sults not ex­pected for about an­other 10 days due to cum­ber­some vote­count­ing pro­ce­dure

Gulf News - - Asia / Philippines -

Nepalis be­gan vot­ing in the fi­nal round of par­lia­men­tary elec­tions yes­ter­day, a key step to com­plete a near decade-long demo­cratic tran­si­tion after the abo­li­tion of the cen­turies-old monar­chy and the end of a civil war against Maoist guer­ril­las.

The first phase of the elec­tion was held on Novem­ber 26, with fi­nal re­sults not ex­pected for about an­other 10 days be­cause of the cum­ber­some vote-count­ing pro­ce­dure, of­fi­cials said.

Of­fi­cials said more than 200,000 sol­diers and po­lice had been de­ployed to main­tain se­cu­rity at polling cen­tres after one per­son was killed and dozens wounded in a se­ries of small blasts in the run-up to the polls.

Ac­tivists de­tained

“Hun­dreds of ac­tivists, in­clud­ing from a splin­ter group of Maoists op­posed to the elec­tion, have been de­tained for cre­at­ing trou­ble,” army spokesman Nain Raj Da­hal said.

More than 15 mil­lion peo­ple were el­i­gi­ble to vote for the 275-mem­ber par­lia­ment — 165 through first-past-the­p­ost and 110 on a pro­por­tional ba­sis in both rounds.

Vot­ers will also choose rep­re­sen­ta­tives to seven state as­sem­blies for the first time since Nepal be­came a fed­eral democ­racy un­der the first repub­li­can con­sti­tu­tion in 2015.

“The coun­try will achieve po­lit­i­cal sta­bil­ity after the elec­tion ... and will move ahead solidly on the path of eco­nomic and so­cial pros­per­ity,” Pres­i­dent Bid­hya Devi Bhan­dari said in a state­ment.

Nepal has seen 10 gov­ern­ment changes in as many years.

In­sta­bil­ity has given rise to corruption, re­tarded growth and slowed re­cov­ery from a 2015 earth­quake that killed 9,000 peo­ple.

“I voted in hopes for a sta­ble gov­ern­ment that can con­cen­trate on de­vel­op­ment and cre­ate jobs so our chil­dren don’t have to go abroad to work,” Binita Karki, 57, said after cast­ing her bal­lots in a Kath­mandu sub­urb, where armed sol­diers stood nearby. Her son works on a con­struc­tion site in Qatar.

The elec­tion pits the cen­trist Nepali Congress party of Prime Min­is­ter Sher Ba­hadur Deuba, who heads a loose al­liance that in­cludes the Mad­hesi par­ties from Nepal’s south­ern plains and for­mer roy­al­ists, against a tight-knit al­liance of for­mer Maoists and the mod­er­ate Com­mu­nist UML party.

The Nepali Congress party is con­sid­ered a pro-In­dia group, while the op­po­si­tion al­liance is seen as closer to China.

AP

A woman casts her vote in Kath­mandu yes­ter­day. Mil­lions in Nepal are vot­ing in the fi­nal phase of polls for mem­bers of the na­tional and pro­vin­cial as­sem­blies.

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