05/15/2017, 12.10
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Local elections in Kathmandu: first stage a success, few episodes of violence

by Christopher Sharma

They are the first elections in 20 years, a first step towards the "secularism" promised by the Constitution. 73% of voters participated. Apart from some episodes, they took place in a peaceful and enthusiastic manner.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - Yesterday the first phase of local elections was successfully held in all three provinces involved. The first after 20 years, these elections represent the first step towards the institutionalization of the new Nepalese lay constitution.

The Nepal Electoral Commission estimates that more than 73% of voters expressed their preference on local representatives. Except for sporadic violent episodes, yesterday's vote was "peaceful and enthusiastic with an important level of electoral participation."

There was concern about these elections due to previous conflicts between the government parties and those who support the madhesi and thari minorities. Among the incidents, a clash with the police district of Dolakha during which a person was killed and ten injuries; The theft and destruction of two urns in the Kalikot district, in northern Nepal by some members of the Maoist Party; And the explosion of a bomb in the Nuwakot district, without casualties, while other weapons were disicovered by security forces in various locations. However, the elections were mostly peaceful.

Originally announced as a single phase vote, the elections were then divided into two rounds for security reasons. In the first phase, 281 local units of 34 districts voted in the three, four and six provinces; While the remaining 41 districts of the provinces one, two, five and seven will hold their elections next June 14.

UML leader and former Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Oli Shrama praised the results: "This is a crucial step towards institutionalizing the secular constitution to protect the rights of minorities in this country. This was very important because some Hindu fundamentalist groups have always been a threat to secularism. Now nobody can question it, because it has been approved by the people at the local level. "

Nepalese Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal congratulated the participation, adding that "the government is proactive in establishing a female and minority leadership at the local level."

The Catholic Church commented that democracy and popular choice are supportive of peace and social solidarity, and that this is why regular elections must be punctual. Over the past few weeks, the Church has repeatedly spoken out about the elections, exhorting them to be "peaceful" and "free".

Yesterday's election involved nearly 5 million voters, of the total 14 million in the country. The counting of votes began early this morning and election results and should be published within three days as promised by the Commission. 

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