News / Asia

    Nepal Goes to Polls to End Political Deadlock

    A Nepal election commission officer carrying ballot boxes heads to a polling booth in Katmandu, Nov. 17, 2013.
    A Nepal election commission officer carrying ballot boxes heads to a polling booth in Katmandu, Nov. 17, 2013.
    Anjana Pasricha
    Nepal holds elections Tuesday, hoping to put an end to a five-year political deadlock that has brought the Himalayan country to a standstill. A disillusioned people hopes the polls will put the impoverished nation on a path to stability and development, but there are fears the political drift will persist.

    Twenty-eight-year-old Sunil Bhattarai has been working as a domestic in India because he could not find a job in Nepal. He had hoped to return to his country after 2008, when political parties promised a new beginning following the overthrow of the monarchy and the end of a civil war. However, in the last five years, the bickering parties were not able to put together a new democratic constitution for the country or move ahead with a development agenda.
      
    Bhattarai is deeply disappointed. He said all political parties have dashed his hopes. He said poor people like him have seen no jobs and no improvement in their lives. 

    Tuesday’s vote offers a second chance to end the country’s debilitating political vacuum by forming a stable body to frame a constitution. Nepal is presently under a caretaker government. 
     
    A director with the Center for South Asia Studies in Kathmandu, Nishchal Pandey, called it a crucial vote.

    “We have already had five prime ministers in six years. People are frustrated with 14 hours of power outage and poor law and order. It is imperative that our constitution is drafted and delivered on time. Political stability is the most important factor for this country. Our economy is in shambles,” said Pandey.

    But Nepal’s fractured electorate, which resulted in a hung assembly in 2008, poses an even bigger challenge this time. That has raised fears that stability may once again elude the country.

    There are nearly 100 parties competing for the 240 directly contested seats in the assembly.  Many of these are small, new parties that have sprung up in the last five years to represent a range of ethnic groups. Two mainstream parties, including the Maoists, who emerged as the largest group in 2008, have split.

    The Maoists said they hoped to win these elections with a convincing margin. But that is unlikely -- their appeal as the party that represents the poor has waned amid accusations that they have succumbed to the trappings of power. 

    Political columnists like Yuvraj Ghimire in Kathmandu worred that the situation may be even worse this time.

    “During the tenure of first constituent assembly, they were busy scrambling for power than preparing the constitution last time. They have not given any proof that they are going to behave differently from last time. The bigger problem could be the house could be much more fragmented than last time,” said Ghimire. 

    There are also concerns about how many of the roughly 12 million registered voters will turn out to vote on Tuesday despite tight security. The elections are being held under the shadow of strikes, violence, and a poll boycott by a clutch of opposition parties led by a breakaway Maoist group. In recent days vehicles have been torched and businesses shut by opposition activists. That has raised fears that voters may be intimidated.

    “I see around my house virtually empty streets. There are no vehicles, there is absolutely nobody because of this strike call. But on Tuesday we would hope people will go to polling booths despite all this bomb threats and despite pressure not to go and vote,” Nishchal Pandey described the scene.

    Some young Nepalese are hoping to change the system.  Fed up with the country’s political culture, 36-year-old Ujwal Thapa has jumped into the electoral fray and is contesting as an independent candidate from Kathmandu. He hopes to transform the system from within, saying Nepalese people want leaders, not “talkers.”

    “People are just tired of political forces that actually over promise and under deliver. I believe this time people are looking at candidates backgrounds very carefully and voting along those lines,” said Thapa.

    Caught between hope and despair, Nepal is looking ahead to the vote, hoping for the best, but bracing for more political drift.

    You May Like

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: aayush niroula from: hong kong
    November 18, 2013 6:15 AM
    why has an indian writer, writing from india, been given to write about the elections in nepal, amalgating a complex dynamics of issues and people into "a disillusioned people hopes the polls will put the impoverished nation on a path to stability". so reductive and inauthentic.
    In Response

    by: Gyan from: Kathmandu
    November 19, 2013 7:34 AM
    Aru Pande is also reporting from Kathmandu no worry man :)

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.