Nepal holds final round of voting in municipal polls

A Nepali woman showing her inked thumb after casting her ballot in the local elections at a polling station in Birgunj Parsa district, south of Kathmandu, yesterday.
A Nepali woman showing her inked thumb after casting her ballot in the local elections at a polling station in Birgunj Parsa district, south of Kathmandu, yesterday.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

KATHMANDU • Nepalis began voting in the final round of municipal elections yesterday, an important step before a general election in November that will complete a near decade-long democratic transition after the abolition of Nepal's monarchy.

The final round of voting covers parts of the restive southern plains that border India and are dominated by the ethnic Madhesi people. More than 2.6 million people are eligible to choose more than 6,000 representatives in 136 municipalities.

Voting had been delayed since June after the Rastriya Janata Party Nepal, which dominates the area, called for a boycott, a call that was only partially successful.

Scores of people were killed in 2015 and 2016 in protests by the Madhesis against a new Constitution that they said left them marginalised. The Madhesis are demanding a unified homeland and greater participation in state organs. But lawmakers rejected a government proposal last month to amend the Constitution and meet some of the Madhesis' demands.

The municipal elections are an attempt by the national government to restore democracy at the local level after a decade-long civil war that ended in 2006 and years of instability after the monarchy was abolished in 2008. They will serve as a barometer of public opinion ahead of the Nov 26 general election.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 19, 2017, with the headline 'Nepal holds final round of voting in municipal polls'. Print Edition | Subscribe