DhakaTribune
Sunday December 17, 2017 08:12 AM

Nepal votes in final round of historic polls

Nepal votes in final round of historic polls
A woman casts her vote during the parliamentary and provincial elections in Bhaktapur, Nepal December 7, 2017REUTERS

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

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 was 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.

It will establish the country’s first provincial assemblies, devolving power away from a top-heavy central government.

Retired teacher Harihar Prasad Yadav said he hoped that would bring stability to a country that has cycled through 10 leaders in the last 11 years, hampering development after a decade of conflict and a devastating earthquake.

“People will get better representation and the development agendas of the country will be in focus,” he said after casting his ballot in the southern city of Birgunj.

The newly-elected assemblies will be tasked with naming their provinces, choosing capitals and negotiating budgets with Kathmandu, all sensitive issues that could rekindle tensions in the ethnically-diverse south.

The populous south is home to a mosaic of ethnic minorities who say the new 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 told AFP.

 

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