Feature: 5 mln Nepalese to cast votes in “historic” local elections

By Shristi Kafle, KATHMANDU, May 13 (Xinhua) — Nepalese will select their local representatives for the first time in two decades through local level elections on Sunday.

In the first phase, the local polls are being held in 283 local units of three provinces 3, 4 and 6 covering 34 districts.

The general public are seen enthusiastic for the historical poll taking place following many political developments and gradual economic reforms in the country.

(Photo: Chief Election Commissioner addressing the media)

Election fever has gripped all the three provinces including the Kathmandu valley while nearly 5 million people will cast their votes.

In Bhaktapur Multiple Campus, one of the polling centers in the smallest district of the country Bhaktapur, public were seen excited for being able to cast their votes.

“The country suffered a lot in last 20 years in lack of local representatives… I am very happy to choose my representatives,” 55-year-old Rajendra Pokharel told Xinhua after collecting his voter identity card on Saturday afternoon.

Accompanying Pokharel was his 21-year-old daughter Sikha Pokharel, a nursing student, who was going to vote for the first time in her life.

Sikha shared, “I was just born when Nepal had hosted the local elections last time. I want to use my voting right to select the capable candidates, especially young ones, who can lead the nation towards prosperity.”

Nearly 50,000 individual candidates and candidates from different political parties are contesting for 13,556 positions in 6,641 polling centers in the first phase.

In Kathmandu valley, most of the candidates have put forward the visions of reforms related to rising air pollution, water sanitation, transportation, corruption, health and education, safety and security and social development among others.

In the past, Kathmandu had the stronghold of largest political parties in the parliament Nepali Congress and CPN UML. However, this time, the public seem divided and have mixed reactions.

An entrepreneur from Ason of Kathmandu Sita Shrestha, along with her octogenarian in-laws, was also found collecting her voter card in Durbar High School located in the center of the capital city.

“This time, I am casting my vote to a capable and visionary candidate, might be a new face, rather than considering any party,” Shrestha told Xinhua.

Organizing a press meet on Saturday, the Election Commission pledged a peaceful and secured polling environment.

Issuing a statement on the eve of local level election, Nepali Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal said, “Local election is a milestone to end the centralized governing system, to establish federal governance and to strengthen democracy.”

The second phase of elections is scheduled to take place on June 14 in four remaining provinces having over 9 million voters.

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