Elections Peacefully Conclude in Nepal, Turnout Varies From High to Low

Despite threats from Maoists and seven agitating parties, polls in Nepal concluded smoothly and peacefully in 36 municipalities of 28 districts Wednesday. The election for 618 posts including 34 Mayor, 25 Deputy Mayor, 197 Ward chairman and 291 ward members and 71 women Ward members of 36 municipalities of 28 district concluded on Wednesday.

Maoists and seven opposition parties joined hands to disturb the vote.

People braved their threats to participate in the vote. The King said derailed democracy will be restored with parliamentary elections by mid-April 2007.

Security forces fired in the air as Nepali Congress workers tried to seize a ballot box in Morang. Voter turnout was high in Morang and Sunsari districts from where NC president Girija Prasad Koirala has been contesting parliamentary elections. Manisha Koirala of Bollywood fame and grandniece of Koirala campaigned against him asking people to participate in the vote Wednesday. A Maoist strike call in Kanchanpur in the far-West disturbed elections in Mahendranagar municipality.

Altogether 1682 candidates were competing in the polls while there were around 1.5 million voters in the municipalities. But, very few voters turned up in the 1040 polling booths set up by the Election Commission to cast their votes. The least vote was cast in Kathmandu district while the highest vote was cast in Jaleshwor municipality of Rautahat district with almost 70 percent of voters turning out. According to the Election Commission, there are about 100,000 voters in Kathmandu but only 45,000 cast their votes. In Lalitpur and Thimi of Bhaktapur also very few voters turned out at the polling booths.

Out of 23000 voters in Lalitpur only 9,000 used their voting rights while in Thimi only 4,000 out of 29,000 turned out in the polling centers. Out of Kathmandu Valley also the election remained lackluster. In Siraha, 42 percent, Kailali 46 percent and in Mahottari only 43 percent of voters cast their votes. In Mechinagar of Jhapa, there are 39901 voters in total. Among them 2822 votes were cast. Similarly in Bhadrapur of Jhapa out of 13392 voters only 4793 cast votes till 3.45 pm. In Birgunj sub metropolis of Parsa There are 58100 voters and 30581 cast their votes. In Dhankuta, out of 12294 voters only 1605 voters took part in the polls. In Biratnagar Sub metropolis, out of 95686 voters, 19200 cast their votes.

In Triyuga municipality of Udaypur out of 38396 voters only 5996 votes were cast. In Malangwa municipality in Sarlahi out of 10825 voters 6976 cast votes. In Hetaunda there were 41392 voters in total but only 1974 votes were cast. Like wise only 33 percent voters turned out in Kalimai municipality of Sindhuli. More voters turned out in the Eastern region in comparison to central and western regions of the country.

1277 candidates were elected unopposed and 2251 posts remained vacant as no candidates filed nominations.

Armed soldiers stood guard with order to shoot anybody who attempted to disturb the poll.