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    Sunday, May 14, 2017

    Nepal votes in first local election in 20 years

    Voting began Sunday in Nepal's first local elections for two decades, a landmark moment in the country's fraught transition to democracy.
    Polls opened in three provinces at 7:00 am (0115 GMT), with nearly 50,000 candidates vying for the position of mayor, deputy mayor, ward chairman and ward member in 283 local municipalities.
    With nearly 70 percent of the population aged under 35, many are electing their local representatives for the first time.
    The local representatives were last elected in 1997 and their five-year terms expired at the height of the brutal Maoist insurgency.
    The ten-year war ended in 2006 and the country began a rocky transition from a Hindu monarchy to a secular federal republic, which has seen it cycle through nine governments. The long gap between polls has left an institutional void at local level, which has seen graft become a way of life in Nepal, hampering the delivery of basic services as well as the recovery from a devastating 2015 earthquake.
    Long queues started to formed early outside polling stations in the capital Kathmandu, many eager voters sheltering under umbrellas from the harsh sun.
    The ballot paper in the capital -- one of the largest constituencies -- was around one metre long (three feet) to accommodate names of the 878 candidates.
    "It is difficult to expect much from our politicians -- they have always been selfish and not worked for the people -- but I hope that with this election things will change," housewife Shova Maharjan, 41, told AFP after casting her vote in the capital.
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    Item Reviewed: Nepal votes in first local election in 20 years Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Abdul Sattar Qamar