Assembly polls begin in Nepal
The voters lined up in polling centres with much enthusiasm to exercise their franchise in the historical Constituent Assembly election.
The much-awaited balloting started from 7 a.m. in the morning in majority parts of the country, however, some voting centres encountered technical problems and opened late, The Himalayan Times reported.
Security agencies have said the lead-up to the election remained mostly peaceful and the voting process has been started without a hitch across the country.
About 12,147,865 voters will vote in 18,457 polling centres in 240 constituencies.
Nepal will choose a 601-member Assembly to draft a new Constitution, including 240 elected under a direct voting system. There will be proportionate voting for 335 seats and the remaining 26 members will be nominated by the government.
Top leaders of the major political parties have cast their votes from their respective constituencies while Chief Election Commissioner Neel Kantha Uprety initiated the voting process by casting his vote from New Baneshwor.
The border with India has been sealed over the weekend in view of threats related to the polls. Movement of people and vehicles across the border was banned and additional security personnel were deployed in sensitive areas, officials said.
The government has mobilised 200,000 security personnel, including 60,000 soldiers, and over one lakh government staff to ensure security for the crucial polls.
"All preparations regarding the November 19 elections have been completed," Chief Election Commissioner Neel Kantha Uprety told PTI on Monday.
Mr. Uprety contended there were no disturbances that would affect the election despite threats issued by the Maoists, who have asked people to boycott the polls.
He asked "dissenting groups not to obstruct the polls" though they could "peacefully protest". He said, "Please honour the voters' rights while exercising your rights to boycott the polls."
The CPN-Maoist, led by Mohan Vaidya, has called a nine-day nationwide transport strike that is effective till Tuesday to disrupt the polls.
The vote is only the second since a civil war launched by Maoist rebels that ended in 2006. The Himalayan nation was then transformed into a secular republic.
(With agency inputs)