Kathmandu : Nepal is set to hold its first local-level polls in two decades today that are crucial for cementing democracy amid political turmoil in the country.’
Altogether 4.9 million voters are eligible to cast their votes in the first phase of elections. The first round of elections in provinces 3, 4 and 6 and the second round 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 will take place across Nepal after a gap of 20 years. They should be held in every five years but due to political instability, they were halted since May 1997.
Local bodies remained ignored during the long transitional period even after the peace deal signed between the government and the Maoists in November 2006.
Prime Minister Prachanda on Saturday appealed to the eligible 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.–PTI