Nepal votes to elect new constituent assembly, over 70% voters cast ballot
Nepal went to polls today with voters across the country lining up at polling booths since early morning to elect the country’s next constituent assembly.world Updated: Nov 19, 2013 21:21 IST
Nepal went to polls on Tuesday with voters across the country lining up at polling booths since early morning to elect the country’s next constituent assembly.
Polling began in 75 districts at 7am and continued 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.
“Polling was largely peaceful. Initial reports show more than 70% polling. This is the highest ever recorded in Nepal’s history,” said chief election commissioner Neel Kanth Uprety.
Despite incidents of violence that claimed one life and injured dozens leading to the polls, large number of voters turned out at booths and polling was by and large peaceful across the country.
Three children were injured when a crude toy-shaped bomb exploded in Kathmandu. There were few reports of booths capture and violence from some polling booths as well.
The election was opposed by a 33-party alliance led by a prominent 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 were deployed at over 18,000 polling booths to ensure problem free polling.
“It was encouraging to see voters turning up at booths. This is a historic opportunity for Nepal to get a new constitution,” said chairman of Nepal's interim government Khil Raj Regmi.
The number of total registered voters in Nepal has declined from 17.6 million in 2008 to 12.1 million this time.
“This is the first time I am casting my vote. I hope it will give us a new constitution and end political instability,” said Anita Subedi, 23, at a polling booth in Kathmandu-5 constituency.
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.
Counting of votes will begin on Tuesday night and be over by November 26 for directly elected seats and by December 6 for seats under proportional representation.
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.