Nepal Elections: Preparations for final phase completed

An election official sets up a polling booth in Kathmandu Wednesday

Over 950 people including three Indians have been detained in Nepal for allegedly attempting to disrupt the last phase of the historic provincial and parliamentary polls to be held tomorrow, police said today.

The completion of the second phase of elections will ensure a federal parliament at the centre and provincial assemblies in seven provinces as envisioned by the new constitution adopted in 2015.

It will establish the country's first provincial assemblies, devolving power away from a top-heavy central government.

"The country will achieve political stability after the election. and will move ahead solidly on the path of economic and social prosperity", President Bidhya Devi Bhandari said in a statement.

"I voted in hopes for a stable government that can concentrate on development and create jobs so our children don't have to go overseas to work", Binita Karki, 57, said after casting her ballots in a Kathmandu suburb, where armed soldiers stood nearby.

The newly-elected assemblies will be tasked with naming their provinces, choosing capitals and negotiating budgets with Kathmandu - all sensitive issues that could rekindle tensions in the ethnically-diverse south.

"How the politics will unfold will depend on how the new parliament addresses the problems and how well the provinces can function", said political analyst Chandra Kishor Jha, referring to the challenges facing Nepal as it enters uncharted territory as a federal state. "There is possibility of conflict again".

Over two decades of political turbulence have hampered development in the impoverished country, which is still recovering from a powerful quake that hit in April 2015, killing 9,000 people and destroying over half a mn homes.

Nepal emerged from a civil war in 2006 and abolished its 239-year-old Hindu monarchy two years later.

But it also sparked deadly protests in the south by ethnic minority groups who say the charter leaves them politically marginalised, and have demanded changes to it.

Some sporadic incidents of violence, including the capturing of booths and scuffles mainly between supporters of the Nepali Congress and CPN-UML, were reported from some districts.

Nepal's mountainous north voted in the first phase 10 days ago.

Counting will begin after voting concludes, with results expected to be announced next week.

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