Nepal to vote in local polls for first time in two decades | world-news | Hindustan Times
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Nepal to vote in local polls for first time in two decades

Analysts say the absence of local-level elected government bodies has delayed development work, boosted corruption and undermined efforts to rebuild areas devastated by earthquakes.

world Updated: May 24, 2017 18:39 IST
People collect their voters' identity cards at a polling station in Thimi, Bhaktapur on Thursday.
People collect their voters' identity cards at a polling station in Thimi, Bhaktapur on Thursday.(Reuters)

Nepal votes in local elections on Sunday for the first time in 20 years, a major step in the young republic’s difficult transition to democracy more than a decade after the end of its civil war.

The government hopes the elections, staggered over two phases, will lead to a general election later in the year. A recent dispute between the Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda”-led government and the Supreme Court chief justice had threatened to derail voting.

Nepal has suffered from years of political instability since emerging from a decade-long Maoist insurgency that ended in 2006 and the abolition of the monarchy two years later.

Analysts say the absence of local-level elected government bodies has delayed development work, boosted corruption and undermined efforts to rebuild areas devastated by two earthquakes in 2015, which killed nearly 9,000 people and displaced three million.

Survivors of the country’s worst disaster on record still languish in temporary shelters made from tarpaulin sheets and bamboo. The government has been criticized for failing to spend $4.1 billion pledged for rebuilding.

The final phase of the local polls is set for June 14, when the restive southern plains, home to ethnic minority groups demanding greater representation, will head to the ballot box.

Fourteen million Nepalis are eligible to vote.