Vote in 32 districts a success, says ECVote in 32 districts a success, says EC
Elections for the federal parliament and provincial assemblies were held in 32 Mountain and Hill districts of six provinces in the first phase as the country reaches the most crucial stage of implementing the constitution promulgated two years ago.
The Election Commission said on Sunday evening that the polls were “peaceful” except for violent incidents in a few polling centres, making the first-phase vote a “historic success”. There were security fears amid recent incidents of explosion targeting candidates and their campaigns in several parts of the country.
“There was an encouraging participation of people in the polls,” the Home Ministry said in a statement.
“Despite the difficult terrain, climatic conditions and sporadic anti-election activities, the first phase of elections has been conducted in a peaceful, free and fair way. This is a major achievement towards institutionalising federalism.”
Election observers from national and international organisations echoed similar views, saying that the polls were largely peaceful.
“Due to effective security arrangements made by the government, the elections were held peacefully,” Chief Election Commissioner Ayodhee Prasad Yadav told journalists after voting concluded.
Elections in the first phase took place for 37 federal parliamentary and 74 provincial assembly seats under the first-past-the-post system while the polls for the remaining parliamentary seats are scheduled to be held on December 7.
There are 165 seats in the House of Representatives and 330 for the provincial assemblies in total. People also cast their vote for the parties under the proportional representation system.
According to an early estimate of the EC, voter turnout was over 65 percent, which the election authority believes will go up when final data are analysed.
Compared to the average turnout during the Constituent Assembly elections in 2013 and local elections in 2017, voter participation this election is lower. There had been 78.74 percent turnout in the first CA polls and 74.16 percent in recently held local elections.
However, former chief election commissioner Neel Kantha Uprety said Sunday’s turnout should be considered “satisfactory” given the incidence of violence before the vote and an adverse weather in the upper region. “Turnout in mountain districts usually remains lower than in the southern plains.
Sunday’s elections came later than in the 2013 CA polls,” he said. According to the EC, Bajura reported the highest turnout at 80 percent. Elections were postponed in two polling centres of Rukum (West) because of fires in ballot boxes.
According to the EC, polls have been postponed at polling centre (A) of the Ratna Secondary School station in Bafikot Rural Municipality and polling centre (B) at the Rastriya Secondary School in Aathbiskot Municipality. Re-elections will take place there.
The poll authority said ballot papers are being transported to the offices of chief election officers based in the district headquarters. The boxes will be kept safely in consultation among election officials, security agencies, political parties and the candidates until the second phase of elections is held on December 7.
Counting of all the ballots will begin only after polling is over across the country.
Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba thanked all the agencies concerned for their contribution to the successful elections.
Identifying the Chand-led CPN as a major security threat, the police administration has arrested more than 400 party leaders and cadres.