Nepal voters reject calls to boycott local polls; initial estimates say 73% turnout in 2nd phase

The RJP, a Madhes-centric party demanding liberal citizenship law for people in Madhes and an enhanced number of local bodies and Parliament seats in proportion to their population, had given a call for the “boycott” of the polls.

Written by Yubaraj Ghimire | Kathmandu | Published: June 29, 2017 2:41 am
Nepal elections, Nepal voting turnout, madhesis, nepal PM, The Election Commission said 62,408 candidates were contesting in Wednesday’s polls. (Source: AP photo)

An estimated 73 per cent votes were polled in Nepal on Wednesday to elect over 15,000 representatives from 334 local bodies during the second round of voting, as people across the nation appeared to have rejected calls to boycott the elections.

Preliminary reports available from Nepal’s Central Election Commission said more than 73 per cent people cast their votes in the second phase of the local-level elections in three provinces — Province 3, 5 and 7.

The biggest loser in the election appeared to be the Rastriya Janata Party (RJP) leadership as their appeal to boycott the polls was turned down by their supporters which was evident from the relatively high turnout.

The RJP, a Madhes-centric party demanding liberal citizenship law for people in Madhes and an enhanced number of local bodies and Parliament seats in proportion to their population, had given a call for the “boycott” of the polls. However, a large number of RJP party activists and leaders filed their nomination as “independents” while voters enthusiastically participated in the polling.

Out of total 744 local bodies, election for 283 had taken place in the first phase on May 14, followed by 334 on Wednesday. Election for rest — in Province 2 — has been slated for September 18.

Reports from different polling stations and districts suggested the polling was by and large peaceful, and few attempts by miscreants to disrupt the poll was foiled by security personnel.

The elections were largely held in a peaceful and fair manner in all the polling centres, despite a few minor incidents, Chief Election Commissioner Ayodhee Prasad Yadav said.

The Election Commission said 62,408 candidates were contesting in Wednesday’s polls.

The Nepal government had earlier this month postponed the date of elections in the disputed Madhesi-stronghold Province 2 by nearly three months, adding a third phase in the polls that will take place in September.

Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba cast his vote at the Asigram Higher Secondary School, the polling station in Ruwakhola in Dadeldhura district of far-east Nepal.

He said the local villagers were excited to participate as the second phase of local-level elections were held in peaceful, free and fair manner.

Deuba said the elections were held so that the villages’ governments are established by the villagers themselves.

Meanwhile, Nepal media reported that at least four persons died, apparently due to natural causes, while casting their votes.

(With PTI inputs)

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