Thousands of eligible voters in Nepal started queuing outside the polling stations on Friday morning as the nation headed to the polls to elect new local representatives.
The bi-decade exercise of the franchise started from 7 am (NST) which would continue till 5 pm (NST), as per the Election Commission, Nepal.
A total of 17,733,723 voters are eligible to cast their vote to choose a total of 35,221 representatives at local levels.
Of the candidates, 355 contesting for different positions from various political parties have been unanimously elected and 35 independent candidates including six contesting for the ward chairmen.
The election commission has set a total of 10,756 polling stations and 21,955 centers across the country to ensure voting rights of public. A total of 65 political parties, out of the total 79 political parties registered with the EC for the poll, are contesting in the polls today.
As many as 109,088 employees and 65,865 volunteers have been deployed for the election. Likewise, 145,011 candidates from various political parties and independent candidates -- 55,698 female and 89,313 male -- are competing in the polls, the EC said.
The voters, above 18 years of age, will elect their leadership in the election to be held in 753 places including 6 metropolitan cities, 11 sub-metropolitan cities, 276 municipalities, and 460 village municipalities.
"In the local elections, someone who really would work as per the spirit of people, think and work for the benefit of the nation and cater the needs of public should be elected," Sunil Maharjan, a registered voter of Kathmandu told ANI after casting his vote.
The May 13 local election is the second local election since the adoption of the new constitution and the transition to federalism after the promulgation of the new constitution in 2015.
Earlier in 2017, the Himalayan Nation had first held the local level polls in a gap of about two decades. The CPN-UML (Communist Party of Nepal- Unified Marxist Leninist) and the CPN-Maoist Center alliance had secured majority in the local as well as provincial and federal elections.
"Past five years too, some of the people have arrogance that they should be re-elected, this didn't lead the nation to stability, it resulted in disruption in every sector and system as well as the whole nation. A large swath of people who are mostly uneducated and backward was impacted largely. It possessed danger to the system," Lata Rana, one of the voters told ANI.
"First and foremost thing is the stability which we have been seeking for since long. Only those who deserve the posts should be elected not those who go around before the election hullabaloos and serve personal needs after getting to the power. Public also tend to get swept by such promises as they are easy to convince as many of the voters are not educated. The tendency has remained prevalent in urban areas then we cannot expect better in the rural areas," Rana added.
As the nation headed to the polls, Chief Election Commissioner Dinesh Kumar Thapaliya appealed to all voters to vote in a fearless manner.
"I want to request all voters to vote without being influenced and make the poll a success," tweeted Thapaliya.
Thapaliya also referred to the right of every citizen to contest an election and the right of eligible voters to vote, as guaranteed by the constitution while stating that election is means for setting the foundation stone of the representative form of governance and for the meaningful practice of democracy.
Similarly, Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba also appealed to all the eligible voters to use their voting right freely in the local election.
"Adult franchise is a constitutional right and a pillar of democracy. I urge all to contribute to the institutional development of the democratic governance system by participating in democratic practices from the local level," the premier said.
President Bidya Devi Bhandari appealed to all to cast their votes with confidence in the local elections to be held on May 13.
President Bhandari said that as elections are the biggest celebration of a democracy, it is the responsibility of all to create an environment where every citizen can exercise his or her right to vote in a free, fair and fearless environment.
Stating that people should take the election as a special opportunity to bring the issues of development of the society and the nation to the doorsteps of the people. She also said that the most beautiful aspect of democracy is the governance of the country by the elected representatives of the people.
She said that the periodic elections formally express the sovereignty inherent in the people and the real source of state power in the people.
Meanwhile, as many as two hundred sixty thousand security persons are providing security in the local level election. Among them 100 thousand are the Myadi (temporary) police persons.
More than 65 thousand Nepal Police personnel, over 32 thousand Armed Police Force (APF) personnel and 71 thousand Nepali Army personnel are mobilized for securing the election.
Security is provided in three cordons. In the first cordon are the Nepal Police and Myadi police personnel, in the second cordon are the APF personnel and the Nepali Army personnel are mobilized in the third (outer) cordon. (ANI)