Local polls conclude peacefully

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The Rising Nepal

Kathmandu, May 14: A preliminary report of the Election Commission has shown 64 per cent voters’ turnout in the local level election held on Friday.  

The EC said the local level election concluded in a largely peaceful way. 

People throughout the country, including the first time voters, elderlies and differently abled among others participated in the election across the country. Voting for the local level elections had begun simultaneously at 7:00 am and concluded at 5:00 pm. However, voting continued even after 5 in some places. 

“Although sporadic scuffles were reported in some places, the election concluded in a peaceful manner,” Chief Election Commissioner Dinesh Kumar Thapaliya told at news briefing immediately after the voting concluded.

“There was a problem in the security arrangements, as the election was conducted in a single phase. There was also a lack of needed cooperation from the political parties and candidates,” he said.

As per the EC’s preliminary data, the country witnessed overall voters’ turnout at 64 per cent while Kathmandu witnessed only 52 per cent turnout, he added. 

He said the turnout was not satisfactory and blamed the 52 per cent turnout in Kathmandu for the overall poor participation of voters.

He said that in some local levels the voters’ turnout was 74 per cent in maximum and around 50 per cent in minimum.  

 “We are not happy with the voters’ turnout, as it was less than what we have estimated,” said Thapaliya.

The commission had earlier estimated the turnout at 65 to 70 per cent.

Meanwhile, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) stated that the local level election held on Friday was not as peaceful as expected.

Election cancelled at least 44 polling stations of 18 local bodies of 14 districts 

Sporadic violent activities were reported in some places during the local level election. Police had to use force because of unwanted incidents in a few places. 

The activists of rival political parties clashed in some polling stations over trivial issues disrupting the voting process, the EC said. 

The security personnel opened fire at a few places after the situation went tense.

Subsequently, polls for at least 44 polling stations of 18 local bodies of 14 districts were cancelled following the violence and disputes, said Thapaliya.

He said the EC was preparing to hold the proponed elections on Saturday.  Thapaliya said counting of votes in the 18 local bodies were the election was postponed would be counted only after holding the postponed polls. 

He also said bad weather in some places affected the voting and discouraged voters from visiting the polling stations. The countin commenced from Friday night itself. Ballot boxes were being transported to vote counting centres in Kathmandu and in several other districts. The ballot papers of Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) were transported to the City Hall, Bhrikutimandap. 

Thapaliya said arrangements have made to transport the ballot boxes from the Himalayan and remote areas by helicopters on Saturday. Altogether, 145,011 candidates, including 89,313 male candidates are contesting for the posts of mayor, deputy mayor, ward chairman and ward members.

There are 753 local units, six metropolitan cities, 11 sub-metropolitan cities, 276 municipalities and 460 rural municipalities. The local poll will elect 35,221 representatives in 753 local polls.

This is the second time the people of Nepal have voted for local representatives since the promulgation of the constitution in 2015. 

The last election was held in 2017 in three phases. This time the country holds local elections in a single phase today.

EC seeks clarification from ex PM Bhattarai

Meanwhile, the EC has sought clarification from federal council chair of Janata Samajwadi Party Dr. Babu Ram Bhatatrai for making public the ballot paper that he had marked for voting.

The poll body asked Dr. Bhattarai to furnish clarification within 24 hours, claiming that he committed an offense as per Section 9 (2) of Election (Offence and Punishment) Act-2073, according to EC’s Spokesperson Shaligram Sharma Poudel.