Saturday, December 10, 2022

Nepal votes to elect new parland provincial assemblies

Millions of Nepalese began voting on Sunday to elect a new parliament and provincial assemblies amid tight security, hoping to end the political instability that has plagued the country for more than a decade and impeded growth.
The polling started at 7 am local time at over 22,000 polling centres and will close at 5 pm.
Talking to reporters, Home Secretary Binod Prakash Singh said that up to 46 per cent votes have been cast across the country as of 2 pm local time.
Barring a few sporadic incidents, the voting remained largely peaceful.
A minor explosion took place near Sharda Secondary School polling station in Dhangadhi Sub-metropolitan City in Kailali district. However, there was no casualty, officials said, adding that voting continued in the polling station despite the incident with just half-an-hour interruption.
Some incidents of heated arguments between party cadres were reported from 11 areas in Dhangadi, Gorkha and Dolakha districts. However, it did not affect the polling, they said.
Singh said that voting has resumed at the places where it was put off after minor disputes earlier in the day.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister and Nepali Congress (NC) president Sher Bahadur Deuba cast his ballot in his home district Dadeldhura. He voted at the Ashigram Secondary School polling centre at Ruwakhola in Ganyapdhura rural municipality-1 in the morning. Deuba had studied at this school.
Deuba has continuously won the election from Dadeldhura since 1991. He is running for the federal parliament member for the seventh time in this election, The Himalayan Times newspaper reported.
Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) chairman and former prime minister K P Sharma Oli cast his ballot at the polling centre situated in Suryabinayak Municipality in Bhaktapur district near Kathmandu.
CPN-Maoist Centre chairman and former prime minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda” cast his vote at the polling centre located at Bharatpur Municipality in Chitawan district.
Speaking to the media after voting from a polling station in Bhaktapur, Chief Election Commissioner Dinesh Kumar Thapaliya said the counting will start at 9 pm Sunday after collecting all the ballot boxes.
Thapaliya said the commission would announce all the first-past-the-post results in the next eight days while the results of proportional representation elections would be announced by December 8.
More than 17.9 million eligible voters will elect a 275-member House of Representatives.
Out of a total of 275 Members of Parliament, 165 will be elected through direct voting, while the remaining 110 will be elected through a proportional electoral system.
At the same time, voters will also choose representatives to seven provincial assemblies.
Out of a total of 550 members of the provincial assemblies, 330 will be elected directly and 220 will be elected through the proportional method.
Political observers closely watching the elections have predicted a hung parliament and a government that is unlikely to provide the required political stability in Nepal.
Political instability has been a recurrent feature of Nepal’s Parliament since the end of the decade-long Maoist insurgency, and no prime minister has served a full term after the civil war ended in 2006.
The frequent changes and fighting among parties have been blamed for the country’s slow economic growth.
There are two major political alliances contesting the polls — the ruling Nepali Congress-led democratic and leftist alliance and the CPN-UML-led leftist and pro-Hindu, pro-monarchy alliance.
Nepali Congress led by Prime Minister Deuba, 76, has formed an electoral alliance with former Maoist guerrilla leader ‘Prachanda’, 67, against former premier Oli, 70.
The Nepali Congress-led ruling alliance includes CPN-Maoist Centre, CPN-Unified Socialist, and Madhes-based Loktantrik Samajwadi Party while the CPN-UML-led alliance includes pro-Hindu Rastriya Prajatantra Party and Madhes-based Janata Samajwadi Party.
The next government will face challenges of keeping a stable political administration, reviving the tourism industry and balancing ties with neighbours — China and India.
Out of a total of 2,412 candidates contesting the election for federal Parliament, 867 are independents.
Among the major political parties, the CPN-UML has fielded 141 candidates while the Nepali Congress and CPN-Maoist Centre have fielded 91 and 46 candidates respectively.
Security has been stepped up in all 77 districts across the country with air-patrolling around polling stations and closing of international borders for 72 hours.

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