Deadly Violence, Security Assurance: Election Phase 2 Tomorrow
On Tuesday, a bomb exploded at the home of Prem Bhandari, a Nepali Congress candidate in Siddheshwar of Bhojpur Municipality-4 of Bhojpur district. In a separate incident, Chandra Singh aka Sunrise, a cadre of Netra Bikram Chand Biplav led Communist Party of Nepal, died when the bomb he was carrying exploded in Dhangadhi on Monday night. Police said that the bomb went off before he could plant it. Also on Monday, a bomb exploded at the CPN-UML mayoral candidate Tara Subba’s house in Dharan. On Sunday, at least seven persons were injured in an explosion in Sunawal Municipality of Nawalparasi. The blast was reportedly targeted at an election rally of the CPN (Maoist Centre). A blast was reported at the residence of Khadga Phago, Nepali Congress mayoral candidate for Morang Urlabari Municipality. On June 21, an explosion was reported in the house of Lila Chauhan, CPN-UML ward chair candidate of Rupakot Majhuwagadi Municipality, Khotang district. Chauhan’s daughter in law Sakuntala Chauhan has been seriously injured in the incident. All in all, at least a dozen bombs explosions have been reported in the last two weeks while scores of incidents of clashes were reported over the same period of time.
Amidst these steady incidents of violence in various districts, Nepal’s Election Commission has assured of proper security arrangement for voters to cast their votes in all the three Provinces where the second phase of Local Elections are taking place tomorrow, June 28.
A day ahead of polling day, Election Commission Chief Ayodhee Prasad Yadav briefed the media about the arrangements for the polls, a formality to appeal the public to participate in the polls. While some clashes took place in the lead up to the first round of the Local Election in May, incidents of bomb explosions were not frequent.
RJP and Local Elections Phase 2:
The government had decided to hold the second round of local level election to bring the agitating Rastriya Janata Party Nepal (RJP-N), a Madhes based party, on board the election process. However, the newly formed alliance of six Madhesi parties decided to boycott the election process after the government did not address their demands.
Although the party took an official position of boycotting the polls, many of its cadres have nominated candidacies in different districts, particularly in Nawalparasi, Kapilvastu and Rupendehi districts, in which the Party is believed to have stronghold.
RJP-Nepal, which has 25 seats in the parliament, has vowed to disrupt the polls. However, since the local level election being held after 20 years, the public have shown enthusiasm in participating in the polls. The Party’s leaders declined to comment, but reiterated their position to disrupt tomorrow’s election.
Security Arrangements: Voting in Army’s Presence
Considering the volatile security situation, the government has deployed a huge number of security personnel. President Bidya Bhandari on Sunday officially approved the government request to mobilise the Nepal Army for the second phase of local elections. This will be the first time in local level polls that ballots are cast in the presence of army. However, it is not the first time that Nepal Army is being mobilised during the polls. In 2013, the then sitting Chief Justice Khilraj Regmi, who had assumed the role of prime minister, had deployed Army to conduct the Second Constituent Assembly polls.
Tomorrow, as per the security plan, at least 10 police are being deployed for each polling booth. Besides, two mobile teams of Nepal Police, two teams of Armed Police Force, and 25 police reserve force are arranged for in every rural municipality. At least 40 Nepal Army personnel are being deployed in each rural municipality and 70 for each municipality.
After series of incidents of explosion and clashes, Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba in recommendation of the National Security Council had sought approval of the president to mobilise the army.
Most of the incidents of explosion are suspected to have been conducted by Netra Bikram Chanda ‘Biplab’ led Communist Party of Nepal, a breakaway faction of the ruing CPN (Maoist) party.
Local Election Phase 2: Basic Details
The second round of local level elections will be held in 334 local units of 35 districts in Provinces 1, 5 and 7 on Wednesday (June 28). The government has decided to hold the local level election in Province 2 in September.
The first round of local election was held on May 14 in 283 local units of 34 districts in Province 3, 4 and 5.
The Election Commission in the press briefing said that it has made an arrangement for the voters to cast their votes showing any government document—citizenship certificate, passport, land ownership certificate or ID card with photograph issued by government bodies– if they have no voter Identity Card if they have name in the final voters list.
The Commission had started distributing the voter ID cards only two days before, due to which many of the voters may have not been able to collect their voters identity cards
Voting begins at 7AM and will end at 5PM.
The commission has permitted 48 organisations to monitor the election, which has deployed 6,733 election observers in 35 districts. The commission has also permitted diplomatic community to monitor election in six cities– Dhankuta, Biratnagar, Bhairawa, Palpa, Dhangadhi and Dadeldhura.