Voting began in Nepal today for the second phase of its local-level polls being held in the country after a gap of two decades -- an election crucial for cementing democracy in the country.
More than 6.4 million people are eligible voters in the 35 districts of Provinces 1, 5 and 7 that have gone to polls in the second phase of the local level polls to elect more than 15,000 local representatives.
The first phase of local polls was held on May 14 in Provinces 3, 4 and 6.
Though the local polls were earlier scheduled for two phases, the second phase had to be postponed twice -- and a third phase had to be declared -- in a bid to accommodate the dissenting parties, including the Madhesis, that are yet to commit to the polls to be held in Province 2 on September 18.
The Nepal government had earlier this month postponed the date of local-level elections in the disputed Madhesi- stronghold Province 2 by nearly three months, adding a third phase in the polls that will take place in September.
A total of 8,364 polling centres have been designated for today's voting, the Himalayan Times reported.
In the first phase of polls, the voter turnout was estimated to be 74 per cent.
Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba cast his vote in the second phase of polls this morning.
In a brief statement, Deuba said the local level elections were held so that the villages' governments are established by the villagers themselves.
He expressed a belief that the Constitution's full- fledged implementation will take its course once the local government is established, and that the development works will move forward efficiently, rapidly and transparently.
The Election Commission said 62,408 candidates were contesting the second phase of elections.
Votes will be cast secretly under the first-past-the-post electoral system on the basis of one post, one vote pattern.
The Ministry of Home Affairs said yesterday that the government had made fool-proof security arrangements to ensure that the second phase of local level elections took place in a free, fair and peaceful environment.