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Country goes to polls today

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KATHMANDU, NOV 18 - Over 200,000 strong security personnel are at the ready, voters have headed homes from the Capital, and the Election Commission has completed all preparations. The stage is set. The country goes to the polls on Tuesday.

Voter identity cards in their hands, around 12.21 million voters in the country are set to pick 575 members for the second Constituent Assembly that they hope will draft a new constitution within a year.

The Election Commission (EC) has completed all preparations, while over 200,000 security personnel, including those from the Nepal Army, are already manning polling centres, areas where people have to walk a long distance, and highways across the country for election day, according to officials.

Special class officers and gazetted first class government officers have been deployed in all the 240 constituencies, along with micro-monitors who will report irregularities during polling to the EC. A total of 215,000 trained staffers are also on the ready for the big day.

Voting is scheduled to begin at 7 am and will last until 5 pm. Both the government and the EC have appealed to voters to exercise their franchise without fear.

The EC has banned vehicles, except those that hold special EC and District Administration Office passes, from plying from Monday midnight. A total of 12,147,865 voters registered with the EC are expected to cast their ballot. The number of voters in the 2008 CA election was 17.6 million. The number decreased significantly after the EC adopted the biometric voter registration system to avoid duplication. Around 17,000 (6,128 under the first-past-the-post [FPTP] system and 10,709 in the proportional representation [PR] category) candidates belonging to 122 political parties are in the fray for 575 CA seats. A total of 26 members will be nominated by the Cabinet on the basis of national consensus.

On the eve of the election, Chief Election Commissioner Neel Kantha Uprety said all preparations have been completed and that they are ready for a free, fair and violence-free election.

“Everything is done, while all we now need to do is wait for the voters at the polling centres tomorrow and the election results after that,” Uprety told journalists at the EC headquarters here.

“Cast your votes for your favourite party and candidate without fear,” Uprety said.

Almost all voter identity cards have been distributed to their rightful owners. While voters have to use the light blue ballot papers for the FPTP poll system, where they will choose the party candidate, they have to put the stamp for the PR system on the light red ballot papers, where they will vote for a particular party.

A total of 335 international observers, including former US President Jimmy Carter, Afghanistan’s Election Commission Chairman Ahmad Yousaf Nuristani, Maldives’ Election chief Fuwad Thowfeek and Bhutanese Election Chief Kunzang Wangdi, are in Kathmandu to observe the election.

A total of 54 political parties were in the fray in the 2008 election. The then CPN-Maoist had emerged as the largest party, followed by the Nepali Congress, CPN-UML and the Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum. The CA that was elected for two years failed to promulgate a new constitution, despite the extension of its tenure four times. It was disbanded in May last year. The parties failed to reach agreement on federalism—number of provinces and forms of governance.

This time around, political parties have vowed to document all issues resolved in the previous CA and sort out disputes either through consensus or voting. In their election manifestos this time, parties have said they would go for a national referendum to promulgate a new constitution if issues are not sorted out in the CA.

Posted on: 2013-11-19 07:42

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