Nepal votes amid boycott call,violence and disillusionment

An estimated 12.1 million voters - 5.4 million fewer than last time - are expected to cast their votes in Nepal.

Kathmandu | Published:November 19, 2013 1:38 am

An estimated 12.1 million voters – 5.4 million fewer than last time – are expected to cast their votes in Nepal,as the country heads to the polls on Tuesday.

A poor show by the first constituent assembly,that failed to deliver a constitution,has left the Nepalese people disillusioned and hoping that this time,the attempt is successful.

However,over 450 incidents of violence that occurred in the run-up to the elections,and a boycott of the polls by an alliance of 33 parties led by the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoists,has cast a pall on the elections.

Counting will begin on Tuesday evening and a clear indication of the winner is expected to come in the 48 hours after that. However,most predict that no one party will win a clear majority,and negotiations will have to be undertaken to form the government.

“We have made foolproof security arrangements,” Chief Election Commissioner Neel Kantha Uprety assured voters,soon after campaigning by the candidates ended. But the EC still has to deal with complaints of violation of the code of conduct. Former US President Jimmy Carter,who is leading a team of international observers,after his arrival on Sunday,has had a case lodged against him. “We are looking into the complaints lodged against President Carter,and if found true,we will take an appropriate stance,” EC sources said. But given his high profile and the fact that major EC activities are funded by the US and EU,there are far less chances of any comment coming from the EC.

Carter,as the principal international observer during the April 2008 elections,had issued a public statement certifying the elections ‘reasonably free and fair’ halfway through the elections process. He had ignored reports of large scale rigging and violence.

Complaints alleging violations of the code of conduct were lodged against other high-profile candidates,including former Prime Minister and Maoist Chief Prachanda.

A widely circulated video clip shows Prachanda asking voters in Kathmandu-ten constituency to ‘win’ at any cost,with the help of money or violence. “Win we must,even if that means distributing alcohol and edible items,” he says in the video. He also tells his supporters in the video that the margin of victory must increase in these elections,‘as otherwise the reactionaries will make it into a big issue.’

The Election Commission also ordered the suspension of the operation of ABC Television,a private channel allegedly owned and run by people with ties to the Maoists. The commission accused the channel of working as a propaganda tool for the party.

Despite a visible lack of enthusiasm among voters,there has been a massive growth in the number of candidates and parties in the fray.

Poll numbers

6,128

candidates for the first

past-the-post system

10,709

candidates for the proportional

representation system.

26

members to be nominated

for the 601-member House.

200,000

security personnel deployed

18,400

polling booths set up

155

candidates from the third gender contesting. Nepal has recognised the third gender as a separate gender,given its members citizenship

Yubaraj Ghimire

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