Nepal: First Woman President Bidya Devi Bhandari Re-elected for Second Term | PTI

Nepal’s first woman president Bidya Devi Bhandari was on Tuesday re-elected for a second term in office. Incumbent President Bhandari defeated Nepali Congress leader Kumari Laxmi Rai with an overwhelming majority in the presidential election. Bhandari, 56, won since her nomination was backed by the ruling Left alliance of the CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Centre), the Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum-Nepal and other fringe parties.

Nepal: Communist parties poised to take power | Dhaka Tribune

Nepal’s Communist parties have secured a majority of seats in the upper house of parliament, the election commission said Thursday, paving the way for the leftist alliance to form the next government two months after historic general elections. The alliance of the main Communist party and former Maoist rebels won a strong majority in the indirectly elected upper house, according to results announced Thursday. The results of the national vote held late last year have not yet been confirmed, but an incomplete tally suggests the alliance also secured a majority in the directly elected lower house.

Nepal: Poll panel calls meeting of political parties | Gulf Times

The Election Commission (EC) in Nepal yesterday called a meeting of five political parties and apprised them of the preparations, programmes, and processes of the February 7 National Assembly (NA) elections. CPN (UML) leader Subash Chandra Nembang after the meeting confirmed that the EC briefed the political parties on the poll programmes and processes. “The incumbent government will temporarily name the capitals of the seven provinces as per the constitution and laws. I believe that a political consensus will be reached on the matter,” he said. A total of 2,056 local and provincial representatives will vote in the NA polls.

Nepal: Nepal still waits for a new government | RFI

Three weeks after the second phase of Nepal’s parliamentary & provincial elections, the country still doesn’t have a government. These are the first elections after a new Constitution was approved in 2015. The Left Alliance between the Maoist Centre and the Unified Maoist-Leninists appears to have won, over the Nepali Congress party, which has been mainly in power since 1991. But the Election Commission has yet to publish the final results. “The Nepali Congress is being a sore loser,” explains Kunda Dixit, the chief editor of the weekly Nepali Times.

Nepal: Election officials begin counting votes for new provincial assemblies | Associated Press

Election officials in Nepal on Friday began counting votes for national and provincial assemblies, the first time the Himalayan nation went to the polls to elect new federal units with the hope of bringing government closer to rural and remote areas. An initial report from the Election Commission showed communist parties won two seats in the 165-member National Assembly and are leading in many more places. Ballot boxes were still being transported from remote villages to district headquarters for counting. In the capital, Kathmandu, officials tallied the votes inside City Hall that was guarded by armed soldiers while hundreds of supporters of candidates waited in the streets outside.

Nepal: Lack of disabled-friendly polling centers disappoint voters with disabilities | Republica

In the recently concluded local level elections, Laxman Subedi, chairperson of the Kaski Association of the Blind could not exercise his voting right the way he wanted.   He had reached the polling center along with his reliable friend but the election officers didn’t allow his friend to accompany him to the booth. As the election officers said that only family members could accompany him to the polling booth, Subedi had to cast his ballot with the help of one of the election officer. Though he took part in the elections, he is still doubtful whether his vote went to his favored candidate. “Maybe the election officer cast my vote to the candidate of his choice? I am still not confident,” he said.

Nepal: Nepal goes to the polls for historic vote | AFP

Millions of Nepalis headed to the polls Sunday for a historic election billed as a turning point for the impoverished Himalayan nation, hoping to end the ruinous instability that has plagued the country since the end of a bloody civil war a decade ago. The two-phase elections for national and provincial parliaments are the first under a new post-war constitution born out of a peace deal that ended the 10-year Maoist insurgency in 2006 and set the country on a path from monarchy to democracy. It took nine years after the end of the conflict for the new charter to be agreed as a series of brittle coalition governments bickered over the country’s future as a federal democratic state.

Nepal: Battle for hearts, minds and ears in Nepal election | AFP

Wit days to go before elections in Nepal the battle for votes is being fought over the air waves as radio stations, many backed by political parties, beam campaign messages to the farthest corners of the Himalayan nation. Social media may now dominate political campaigns in the West, but in Nepal, where fewer than one in five people has access to the internet, radio is king. Community radio exploded in the early 1990s as Nepal’s monarchy began to loosen its grip on power, liberalising the media and allowing popular elections for a new government. It grew with the mobile revolution as cheap handsets with built-in FM receivers became widely owned, allowing news to reach areas of the landlocked mountainous country where newspapers can take days to arrive.

Nepal: Nepal gears up for elections amid fears of violence | Gulf Times

Nepali voters will head to polling stations across their northern Himalayan districts next Sunday in the first phase of general elections, taking a significant step forward in establishing a federal democracy in the country. The polls will take place under a new constitution passed by lawmakers in September 2015 as part of a peace process that began with the end of a decade-long civil war in 2006. The war pitted the Maoists against the state and left more than 16,000 people dead. After Maoist rebels gave up their arms, they joined the parliamentary system, resulting in Nepal shifting from a monarchy to a secular federal republic.

Nepal: Differently-abled persons ask Election Commission to guarantee secret voting rights | The Himalayan Times

Differently-abled persons have requested the Election Commission to guarantee the rights of secret voting for the upcoming House of Representatives and State Assemblies elections. At an interaction organised on election of the House of Representatives and State Assemblies at Dhulikhel today, they complained that physically disabled persons are deprived of opportunity of voters’ education.

Nepal: Court seeks amici curiae in petition seeking voting rights for public servants and security personnel | Republica

The Supreme Court on Sunday asked the Nepal Bar Association (NBA) and the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) to send amici curiae to plead in the apex court Monday in relation to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) that demands voting rights for public servants and security personnel deployed on election duty. Following Sunday’s hearing on the petition, a division bench of justices Deepak Raj Joshee and Dambar Bahadur Shahi asked the bar bodies to send one representative each to plead as amicus curiae. Stating that this issue was sensitive as it is associated with the fundamental rights of citizens, the bench asked the two bodies to send their representatives. 

Nepal: Petition seeks voting rights for civil servants | The Kathmandu Post

The Election Commission’s decision not to allow civil servants and security forces deployed in the elections to vote have raised serious concerns from various organisations of the civil servants have raised serious over their constitutional rights. In his writ, civil servant Bharat Kumar Mainali has demanded a mandamus order with certiorari from the apex court to ensure the voting rights of the civil servants regardless of their deployment for the proportional representation election system. Mainali has demanded that the SC annul any provision that bars the civil servants from voting and issue a mandamus order to ensure the voting rights by including their names in the temporary voting list of the Election Commission.

Nepal: Voting peaceful in previously troubled southern Nepal | Associated Press

Tens of thousands of people voted peacefully Monday in a previously troubled southern Nepal province where ethnic violence demanding constitution changes had led to dozens of deaths in recent years. Police said there was no trouble during the voting in the No. 2 province, where security had been stepped up for the municipal and village council elections. The Madhesi ethnic group wants their provinces to have more territory than was assigned under the constitution adopted in 2015.

Nepal: Polling booths open for final phase of local elections in Nepal | AFP

Polls opened in Nepal on Monday (Sept 18) for the final phase of local polls, the first in nearly two decades and a key step in the country’s post-war transition to a federal democracy. Most of the country has already voted in the landmark polls, but the vote was repeatedly delayed in one province of Nepal’s southern plains, which was the epicentre of deadly ethnic protests two years ago. Protests kicked off after a new Constitution was passed in 2015 – nearly a decade after the end of the brutal Maoist insurgency – with ethnic minority groups saying the charter left them politically marginalised.

Nepal: How will Nepal elect its president, vice-president from now on? | OnlineKhabar

The government has proposed to introduce the weighted voting system to conduct elections of president and vice-president under the 2015 constitution. The Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs has already determined the weight of votes to be cast by members of the electoral college that comprises all lawmakers of both Houses of the federal Parliament as well as all provincial assemblies. The draft law has been sent to the Cabinet for further discussion before registering it in Parliament. Article 62 of the constitution states, “The President shall be elected by an electoral college composed of the members of the Federal Parliament and of the State Assemblies. The voting weight age of the members of the Federal Parliament and of the State Assemblies shall vary as provided for in the Federal law.”

Nepal: EU, United Nations contribute additional 1.6 million euros for elections | Republica

The European Union (EU) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) have announced to provide an additional 1.6 million euros grant as part of their electoral assistance to Nepal to reinforce their cooperation with the Election Commission of Nepal. The grant will be used to provide needful electoral assistance to the EC through the UNDP-managed Electoral Support Project (ESP), according to a press statement issued jointly by UNDP  and EU Office in Kathmandu on Wednesday. 

Nepal: Stakeholders demand voting rights for migrant workers | Republica

Speakers at a programme here stressed for a provision wherein the Nepali migrant workers abroad could cast their ballots back home by any means. At an interaction programme themed on the voting rights of the migrant workers and organized by People Forum in the capital city, they also suggested the concerned authorities to consider the ways for the Nepali migrant workers off-shore to help them exercise their franchise in the next local level election to be held after five years. There are a total of 115 countries in the world having provisions for their fellow citizens in the foreign soil to vote, they shared recommending a system wherein the Nepali migrant workers could cast vote at Nepali diplomatic missions from the respective countries they work in. 

Nepal: Nepalis vote in second round of crucial local election | Reuters

Nepalis began voting in the second round of local elections on Wednesday, a key step towards holding a general election later this year that would complete a near decade-long democratic transition after the abolition of its monarchy. The latest round of voting covers parts of the restive southern plains that border India and there are concerns about possible violence after Rastriya Janata Party Nepal (RJPN), a group that dominates the area, said it would boycott the vote and called for a general strike. In 2015 and 2016 scores of people were killed, mainly in clashes with police, in protests by the local ethnic Madhesi against a new constitution that they say leaves them marginalized and favors those living in the hills of the Himalayan nation.

Nepal: The baffled voters | Umesh Raj Regmi/The Kathmandu Post

The recently concluded first phase of local elections have pointed to a marked need for voter education. The Election Commission of Nepal (ECN) has recognised that it is urgent to educate voters to ensure free, fair and credible elections. Making potential voters and stakeholders aware of their voting rights, and getting them to cast their votes properly and confidently is a continuous process. Much effort has been made to convince people to go cast their votes, but little has been done to make sure that they mark the ballot paper correctly. Consequently, an unexpectedly large number of invalid votes were found even in metropolitan areas.

Nepal: House endorses 1st amendment bill of local level election act | The Himalayan Times

The Legislature-Parliament session today endorsed ‘Local-Level Election Act (first amendment) Bill- 2017’. The bill was passed by majority after going through clause-wise deliberations, accepting the proposal presented by Home Minister Janardan Sharma. Taking part in the clause-wise deliberations on the bill, lawmaker Prem Suwal said the act required to operate the local bodies, which, according to him, would help strengthen democracy was yet to be formulated. He demanded the government to come up with a bill towards that end.

Nepal: Visually-impaired voters concerned of privacy | Republica

Voting is regarded as a secret process however in case of visually-impaired in Nepal, it has been hardly so. With the second round of local elections just around the corner, many such voters in Jhapa are worried about the violation of their privacy. Despite having the right to vote, such people are not sure if their votes were cast to the candidate of their choice. Though they are allowed to take a companion with them while voting, some feel that they might have been betrayed by the companions. They doubt that their much trusted friends may take advantage of their blindness and vote for candidates of their preference instead of the voter.

Nepal: Farmers worried as paddy planting will collide with polls | Republica

On February 20 when the Pushpa Kamal Dahal led government announced local elections after a hiatus of nearly 20 years, the whole nation sprang up in joy. Like many others, locals of Khotang district too could not wait to exercise their voting rights in the polls originally scheduled for May 14. To their disappointment, the government then decided to hold polls in two phases – on May 14 and June 14, with Khotang also falling in the second phase. After severe objection from the Madhes-based parties, the government, on April 23, again postponed the polls date for the second round in an apparent bid to bring the agitating parties on board. According to the latest schedule the polls are now slated for June 28. But locals of Khotang are disappointed with the date as it falls during peak paddy plantation season.

Nepal: Local elections postponed for a second time after ethnic minority groups threaten boycott | Hindustan Times

The Nepal government on Monday deferred the second phase of elections to local bodies by nine days to June 23 to ensure the participation of agitating Madhes-based parties. According to a cabinet decision, some electoral provisions will be amended speedily in line with the demands of the Madhesi parties so that they can register and get their election symbols. But the government was silent on two key demands of the Madhesi parties — amendments in the new Constitution to make it more Madhes-friendly and inclusive, and increasing the numbers of local government units in the plains known as Terai.

Nepal: Rainfalls may affect elections during monsoon | Republica

With the monsoon now just around the corner, concerns have been raised that the second phase of local elections rescheduled for June 28 might be marred by rainfalls and water-induced disasters. Monsoon rain in Nepal originates from the Bay of Bengal and enters the country from the eastern side usually around June 10. This year, the Meteorological Forecasting Division (MFD) is expects the monsoon to arrive on time. In the worst case scenario, even if the monsoon gets delayed by a week, the second phase of the elections will be held only after the onset of the monsoon.

Nepal: Prime Minister resigns, casting final local election into doubt | Deutsche Welle

Nepal’s Maoist prime minister resigned on Wednesday in line with an agreement with his coalition partner, casting doubt over the future of second round elections scheduled for next month. Pushpa Kamal Dahal, who led a 10-year Maoist insurgency until a peace agreement was reached in 2006, came to power in August after making a deal with the center-right Nepali Congress party, the largest in parliament. Under the deal, Dahal agreed to hand over power to three-time former prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba after nine-months.

Nepal: Parties in final phase to select candidates for second round polls | Republica

With the second round of the local elections now just 23 days away, major political parties in Province-1 are almost done finalizing their candidates to compete in various positions of their local units. Motivated by the overwhelming participation of voters in the first round of the elections, parties are working with full energy to finalize their candidates so that they will have more time to prepare for the fierce and competitive elections ahead. Province-1, which consists of 14 districts, will hold the elections for its 1,157 ward members. The upcoming election slated for June 14 will elect a total of 137 mayors, deputy mayors and rural municipality chiefs from this province, which has 2,674,563 eligible voters. Election Officers of the districts in the province has fixed 1,862 polling centers, according to Regional Election Office, Biratnagar.

Nepal: Renewed deadlock fears loom large | The Kathmandu Post

An ambivalent ruling coalition and a rigid main opposition, which looks buoyed by results of the first phase of local elections, have stoked some uncertainty over the second round polls, which are less than a month away. A promise by the Nepali Congress-Maoist Centre government that it would address the demands of the agitating Madhes-based parties, six of which have joined hands to form the Rastriya Janata Party Nepal (RJP-N), had paved the way for local level elections in two rounds—first on May 14 and the second on June 14. With the first phase of polls over, negotiations have started on addressing the agitating party’s concerns which include constitution amendment and increasing the number of local units in some districts along the plains.

Nepal: Elections at the Epicenter | The Diplomat

Tulsi Gurung, 35, woke up at dawn on May 13 to board a bus at Kathmandu’s Naya Bus Park with his wife, Ri Maya Gurung, 32, and their daughter Rebika Gurung, 4. The bus park was crowded despite the early hour; passengers awaiting departure loitered with glasses of tea and hawkers announced bottled water and pustakari, a Nepali sweet, for sale. Tulsi and his family had come to catch a bus to their village of Laprak in Gorkha District, just kilometers from the epicenter of the April 2015 earthquake that killed nearly 9,000 people and left over 750,000 families homeless. Tulsi, a trekking guide, had recently completed a climb of Tukche Peak in the Annapurna region of the country. Ri Maya usually stays in the village, where she lives in a temporary shelter with the children and farms potatoes and buckwheat, but she had brought Rebika to the capital city several days earlier to treat an eye infection. The family was in a hurry to return home to vote in local elections — the country’s first since 1997. For many Nepalis, the election represents their first chance to choose local representatives responsible for governance and development, and to influence the ongoing earthquake recovery process.

Nepal: Agitating parties demand postponement of second phase election, NC rejects | DNA

With no progress in sight for addressing the demands of agitating parties to ensure commencement of the second phase of local elections in Nepal, the Rastriya Janata Party (RJP) has proposed to postpone it. RJP leaders proposed that the June 14, 2017 second phase of local body elections be postponed during a meeting with Nepali Congress leaders at the Nepali Congress parliamentary office in Singha Durbar. Rajendra Mahato, Leader, Rastriya Janata Party, said, “What we clearly stated to them was the need for creating a conducive environment for the holding of local elections in the Madhesh region. If a favorable environment is not created, then election cannot be held and the second phase election cannot commence under any circumstances in this condition.”

Nepal: Slow counting leaves voters disappointed | Republica

The delay in vote counting has disappointed the voters who are desperate to see their new representatives assume their offices. The painstakingly slow counting of ballot papers has signaled that the people might have to wait for days to see their new representatives. The excitement was comparatively very high among the locals this time around for the elections which were conducted after a gap of two decades. Before the elections, the voters were counting days to drop their votes and elect capable candidates to shoulder the responsibility of developing their villages.