Nepal votes in final round of historic polls

KATHMANDU: Nepal voted on Thursday in the final round of historic parliamentary elections aimed at drawing a line under years of conflict and political turmoil in the Himalayan country. Thousands of police and soldiers were deployed in the capital Kathmandu and the volatile southern lowlands for the vote after pre-election violence that left one dead and dozens injured.
It is the second phase of a watershed election for national and provincial parliaments under a new constitution that represents the culmination of the transition from feudal monarchy to federal democracy following a brutal civil war that ended 11 years ago.
“I’m feeling very happy to cast a vote because it can change the future of our country, which we are expecting,” said Kathmandu voter Samita Joshi.
“As a young person I think that it will bring hope and opportunities.”
More than 12.2 million people are eligible to vote in the elections, the first phase of which passed off peacefully last month.
But the south is home to a mosaic of ethnic minorities who say the constitution leaves them politically marginalised, a cause that has sparked bloody protests in recent years.
Political analyst Chandra Kishor Jha said violence could return if the promises of a fairer distribution of power were not met under the new federal system.
“If they cannot fulfil their promises then the groups that have been part of the struggle will not stay quiet. There is possibility of conflict again,” he said.
The vote will establish the country’s first provincial assemblies, devolving power away from a top-heavy central government that has cycled through 10 leaders in the last 11 years. — AFP