Kathmandu, Nov. 21: The elections to the House of Representatives and Provincial Assemblies on Sunday remained largely peaceful, not to mention the clashes and tensions at some polling stations.
A preliminary report of the Election Commission (EC) has shown 61 per cent voter turnout in the elections held across the country.
People throughout the nation, including the first-time voters, elderly and differently-abled, among others, participated in the elections. Voting in polling centers of Madhes Province, which were considered sensitive, concluded peacefully.
Voting had begun simultaneously at 7:00 am and concluded at 5:00 pm. However, polling continued even after 5:00 in some places due to obstructions, the Election Commission said.
A total of 17,988,570 people – 9,140,806 males and 8,847,579 females – were eligible to participate in this democratic exercise to elect 275 members of House of Representatives (HoR) and 550 members of seven provincial assemblies.
The EC in a press conference organised Sunday evening said that the polls were held in a peaceful manner.
The voting was largely peaceful though there were incidents of clashes among party cadres in some polling stations, said Chief Election Commissioner Dinesh Kumar Thapaliya. “Preliminary data of voter turnout stands at 61 per cent.”
“We are not happy with the voter turnout, as it is less than what we had estimated. However, the voter turnout is likely to increase by a few percentage once the final report is out,” said Thapaliya.
The voter turnout in local elections held in May was 70.9 per cent.
“Despite efforts to create a peaceful and comfortable environment for election, voting was cancelled in 15 polling stations of Bajura, Surkhet, Gulmi and Nawalparasi (Susta Purba) after disputes ensued between the political parties and the candidates,” said Thapaliya.
Earlier on Sunday afternoon, the polling officers have been told not to postpone voting even after a minor dispute as the voting time has been fixed till 5:00 pm, said Thapaliya, adding the prior approval from the Commission was necessary for postponement.
Stating that the re-election would be completed within two days, Thapaliya said re-election would be held in Nawalparasi (Susta Purba) on Monday and in other districts by Tuesday.
Thapaliya said in some polling stations voting started later than the fixed time owing to dispute between the parties and candidates. The voting process was begun following the consensus of the political parties.
Stating that it was not only the lapses in security arrangements, Thapaliya said there was also a lack of needed cooperation from the political parties and candidates.
Additionally, he said action would be taken against those who created an unnecessary scene and obstructed the election process in accordance with the Election (Offences and Punishment) Act, 2017.
According to the EC, there have been complaints that due to the carelessness of the staff and voters in some polling stations, some ballots of HoR and Provincial Assemblies were not dropped in the designated ballot boxes.
“Arrangements have been made to count all the ballot papers, even those which were dropped in the wrong ballot boxes, with the agreement of the political parties, candidates and election representatives, so that people’s votes are not disregarded,” said Thapaliya.
Vote counting to complete within eight days
CEC Thapaiya said the results of the two-tier elections would be completed within eight days.
He also informed that counting of all four types of ballot papers would start simultaneously. “We will announce all the vote results within eight days,” he added.
Vote counting of Kathmandu Valley under the twin election will be started from Sunday night itself following an all-party discussion after the ballot boxes are transported to the Office of the Election Officers in a secured manner, said Thapaliya.
It is learnt that the task to transport ballot boxes to the Office of Chief Returning Officers began Sunday evening itself. In the mountainous districts, the ballot boxes are expected to be transported to the district headquarters by Monday afternoon if the weather allows flights. The EC also expressed its sorrow over the demise of a person in a clash in Bajura and also asked the government to bear all the treatment expenses of the injured voters.
The Commission had set up 10,892 polling stations and 22,227 polling centres across the country for the polls, the second of its kinds after Nepal adopted a federal republic system following the promulgation of a new constitution in 2015.
The elections pitted the five ruling parties, which had formed an electoral alliance, against the main opposition CPN-UML, which also joined hands with some fringe parties in some constituencies.