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Nepal votes to elect constituent assembly

world Updated: Nov 19, 2013 08:56 IST
Utpal Parashar
Utpal Parashar
Hindustan Times
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Voters across Nepal lined up at polling booths since early Tuesday morning to elect the country's next constituent assembly.

Polling began in 75 districts at 7am and would continue till 5pm.

This is Nepal's second constituent assembly election in five years after the previous one elected in 2008 failed to draft a new constitution.

Despite incidents of violence that claimed one life and injured dozens leading to the polls, initial reports say polling is taking place smoothly in Kathmandu and other places.

The election is being opposed by a 33-party alliance led by a Maoist faction. Police attribute the incidents of violence as handiwork of cadres belonging to these parties.

A total of 191,000 security personnel including 62,000 from Nepal Army have been deployed at over 18,000 polling booths to ensure problem free polling.

Among those who reached polling booths early to cast their votes were chairman of Nepal's interim government Khil Raj Regmi and chief election commissioner Neel Kanth Uprety.

"It is encouraging to see voters turning up at booths. This is a historic opportunity for Nepal and hence I appeal every voter to cast their ballot," Regmi said after casting his vote.

The number of total registered voters in Nepal has declined from 17.6 million in 2008 to 12.1 million this time. Some attribute it as a case of voter apathy due to failure of the previous constituent assembly to draft a constitution.

Over 16,000 candidates are in fray for the 240 directly elected seats and 335 under proportional representation in the 601-member constituent assembly which has 26 nominated members as well.

Outcome of this election is expected to end political and constitutional crisis in Nepal, give the country a new system of governance and restructure it into federal states.