70 percent voter turnout: EC; Polling peaceful throughout the country
KATHMANDU, Nov 19: The Constituent Assembly (CA) election held on Tuesday has concluded peacefully, and saw overwhelming participation by voters across the country.
The election remained largely peaceful, with sporadic cases of violence even as the anti-poll alliance led by the CPN-Maoist exercised its boycott.
Voters cast their ballots for 240 seats under the first-past-the-post (FPTP) electoral system and 335 seats under the proportional representation (PR) system, at 18,436 polling centers in 240 election constituencies across the 75 districts.
According to a preliminary report of the Election Commission (EC), over 70 percent of votes were cast in Tuesday"s poll.
The highest turnout of 80.3 percent was recorded in Dolpa district, while the lowest turnout, 55 percent, was in Rolpa district.
Altogether 12.1 million voters are registered in the new electoral roll with photos and biometrics.
“The voter turnout, which is an indicator of the success of the election, is the highest in Nepal"s electoral history,” said Chief Election Commissioner Neel Kantha Uprety, Tuesday evening in a tone full of joy and confidence.
He claimed that the turnout percentage may actually increase as the EC is yet to prepare a final report.
Presenting the reasons for the high turnout to media persons at a hugely crowded EC Media Center, the chief election commissioner said, “This success was achieved because of the use of technology, electoral rolls with photos and distribution of voter ID cards even at the eleventh hour.”
There was 61.7 percent turnout under the FPTP and 63.3 percent turnout under the PR system in the 2008 CA election.
Similarly, there was 68.15 percent turnout in the 1991 general election, 61.68 percent in the mid-term election of 1994 and 65.69 percent in the 1999 general election.
In Tuesday"s poll, 6,127 candidates of 121 political parties were contesting under FPTP and 10,709 candidates of 122 parties under the PR system.
Uprety stated that corrections made in the electoral roll and voter ID cards played a vital role in making the election smooth and clean. “The success is exemplarily for other countries which are in the phase of institutionalizing democracy,” he added.
Terming Tuesday as historic, the chief election commissioner said history would record that a historic task was accomplished this day.
According to the EC, there was no vote in Thwang Village Development Committee (VDC) of Rolpa district. However, the EC chief said that was an exceptional case.
EC officials said voting was postponed at Tribhuvan Higher Secondary School Jhar Jwala polling center in Depal VDC, Jumla district following disputes between representatives of political parties at the polling center. The commission has scheduled re-election for November 22.
EC Spokesperson Bir Bahadur Rai said voting resumed after brief halts at polling centers at Potiyahi in Rautahat district, in Nageshwor-7 of Gorkha, Shankar Pokhari-4 of Parbat and at Malika Higher Secondary School polling center in Humla district.
Responding to questions about irregularities at some polling centers in Gorkha, Sarlahi and Siraha districts, the chief election commissioner said that they had not received any complaints from the returning officers.
Asked if this CA election would be the last one for the present generation, Uprety said the EC was fully confident that this would be the last CA poll for the country. “
´Voters have already taken their decision and the result of their decision will deliver a new constituti”n,´ maintained the chief election commissioner.
Regmi lauds voters
Chairman of the Interim Election Council, Khil Raj Regmi, has praised voters for their enthusiastic participation in Tuesday"s election.
In a statement issued by his press advisor, Bimal Gautam, Chairman Regmi has further credited the people with the success of the CA election, given their overwhelming participation despite the fear and obstructions created by a few anti-poll groups.“
´I further believe that the new CA will within a short time promulgate a new statute that will usher in a new era of lasting peace and sustainable prosperity in the count”y,´ reads the statement.
The Chief Justice Regmi-led Interim Election Council was formed to hold new the fresh CA election following the demise of the erstwhile CA on May 27, 2012 without delivering a constitution.
Vote counting to start Tuesday night
Chief Election Commissioner Neel Kantha Uprety has said vote counting would begin at some places from Tuesday night and from Wednesday at the remaining places. ´Election results will start coming out from tomorrow [Wednesday] evening,´ he told reporters on Tuesday.
According to EC officials, it will take at least one week to come up with the results for FPTP and three weeks for the PR results.
Returning officers and representatives of political parties, among others, will start counting the votes after the ballot boxes are collected from all polling centers.