Millions vote in Nepal in crucial local elections

2017-06-28 15:21
Nepalese stand in a queue to cast their votes at a polling station in Bhaktapur. (Niranjan Shrestha, AP)

Nepalese stand in a queue to cast their votes at a polling station in Bhaktapur. (Niranjan Shrestha, AP)

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Kathmandu - Millions of people in Nepal are going to the polls on Wednesday in the second phase of local elections, despite threats from ethnic groups that oppose the elections.

More than 162 000 security forces were deployed in the voting areas.

The local elections are being held for the first time in two decades in the Himalayan nation, which was wracked by a long-running Maoist uprising followed by a yearlong delay in passing a new constitution.

Voting was taking place in three of Nepal's seven provinces. 

Three other provinces held elections last month, and another will vote in September.

Ethnic groups in southern Nepal have called for a boycott of the polls, saying their demand for more territory in their province needs to be addressed first.

Members of the largest of the groups, the Madhesi, say their population demands far more territory than the province they were granted by Nepal's new constitution.

The constitution, adopted two years ago, sparked months of protests by the ethnic groups, leaving 52 people dead.

The government has been trying to convince the Madhesis to join the elections, postponing voting in their province to September 18 in hopes of reaching an agreement.

More than 62 000 candidates were contesting 15 038 positions on Wednesday.

Crucial local posts have been occupied by government-appointed bureaucrats because elections could not be held amid delays in drafting the new constitution.

Surya Prasad Sharma, spokesperson of the Election Commission said rains had delayed voting in several polling centres in the south eastern Jhapa district.

"People have showed up at polling stations since early morning. They have turned out in huge numbers," he said.

The first round of elections were held in mid-May, with voter turnout of more than 70%.

Read more on:    nepal

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