The first phase of Nepal’s historic provincial and parliamentary elections covering 32 districts ended peacefully on Sunday with 65% voter turnout despite bad weather.
The highest turnout was in Bajura district. Counting will start after the second phase of elections on December 7 in the remaining 45 districts.
More than 15 million people are eligible to vote. They will be choosing a 275-member parliament and 550 representatives to seven provincial assemblies.
Although polling was by and large peaceful, there were sporadic incidents of violence during after the elections.
On Monday, a security personnel carrying ballot boxes was injured when a bomb went off around 8 am at Kushe Rural Municipality-1 in Jajarkot. Police suspect the involvement of Maoist rebels who were behind similar blasts in the run-up to the polls. The ballot boxes were safely transported to Jajarkot district headquarters.
Polling was suspended in two polling booths of Rukum West after ballot boxes were burnt.
This is Nepal’s first general election after monarchy was abolished, a civil war ended and a constitution was implemented declaring the country a federal republic.
Many voters walked for hours in the snow to reach their polling stations as early as 5 am. Farmers and labourers took the day off to come vote with their families.
The provincial polls are expected to bring the federal government closer to poor and remote regions which need roads, hospitals, schools and power and water.
The main contestants in the elections are the pro-India Nepali Congress Party, which has formed a loose electoral alliance with ethnic Madhesi parties representing people living in the plains on the Indo-Nepal border, and the pro-China Communist UML Party in alliance with Maoist former rebels.