Vastavam web: Voting began in Nepal today in its first local-level polls in two decades that are crucial for cementing democracy amid political turmoil in the country.The first phase of local elections are peacefully taking place at 281 local units out of 283 in province 3, 4 and 6, said the office Election Commission.It said as the candidates have been elected unopposed in two local units, polls are taking place in remaining local units only.Altogether 4.9 million voters are eligible to cast their votes in the first phase of elections.
The second round of polls in provinces 1, 2, 5 and 7 will be held on May 14 and June 14 respectively.The absence of elected representatives in the local bodies for more than 15 years obstructed development in the villages and towns across the country including the capital city Kathmandu.Local-level elections could not be held after 1997 largely as a result of the decade-long Maoist insurgency that claimed more than 16,000 lives.The elections should be held in every five years but due to political instability, they were halted since May 1997.
Prime Minister Prachanda yesterday appealed to the voters to use their sovereign voting rights by casting votes.”I urge all the electors to participate in this historic local-level election and use their sovereign voting rights. In a democracy, people can exercise their sovereign rights through election,” Prachanda said in a statement.”On the one hand, the local polls have stood as a linkage to direct Nepal’s peace process to a logical conclusion, while on the other, it can be looked upon as a milestone to end the unitary and centralised governing system and establish federal governance,” Prachanda said.
This election will open door for meting out the rights and resources centralised at Singha Durbar (central government secretariat) to people’s doorstep, the prime minister said.Some Madhes-centric parties have opposed the elections until the Constitution is amended to accommodate their views: more representation in parliament and redrawing of provincial boundaries.