Thursday, December 29, 2005

EC Sets Up Polling Offices

Kathmandu Dec 29-Election Commission (EC) has stepped up preparations for the municipal polls scheduled for February 8 by set up Election Offices . EC has nominated Chief District Officers as Election Officers of the respective districts and is providing necessary training to them.

Forty three out of the 75 districts have municipal bodies in Nepal. The EC is holding elections for over 4000 municipal seats in which some 1.9 billion voters will exercise their franchise. EC is planning to install more than 1300 polling booths in municipalities nationwide.

Election offices have been set up at Kathmandu and Kirtipur at their respective municipal offices. Feb 8 elections would elect 274 municipal posts including Mayor, Deputy Mayor, Ward Chairperson, Ward Members and the Women Ward Members in Kathmandu Metropolitan City and the Kirtipur Municipality alone.

Out of the total local body posts in the two municipalities, Kathmandu Metropolitan City has 177 posts and Kirtipur Municipality 97.

Elections in 53 municipalities, a metropolis and four sub-metropolises are scheduled for February 8, in a gap of eight years.

In February this year, King Gyanendra assumed direct power through a bloodless coup, promising to combat the escalating communist insurgency and corruption.

After the civic elections, the king has announced general elections by April 2007.

Seven major parliamentary parties, who won over 90 percent seats in the last general elections, have said they would boycott the polls and conduct a peaceful campaign urging people not to vote.

Top Maoist leaders Prachanda and Dr Baburam Bhattarai recently issued a statement from the hiding, announcing a week-long nationwide bandh (shutdown) from Feb 5 and take "action" against poll officials and contestants.

Home Minister Kamal Thapa has said the government will go ahead with the polls as per schedule and security has been beefed up.

Main while ,Authorities in Nepal have decided to provide insurance cover for officials posted for the purpose of holding municipal elections in February, a report said Thursday.The Election Commission will provide insurance up to Nepali Rs.700,000 to poll officials in case of "accidental deaths", the Himalayan Times reported.

Narendra Dahal, chief district officer of Morang in south-eastern Nepal, who is also the officiating district election officer, said the gazetted employees involved in the Feb 8 polls would be ensured for Nepali Rs.700,000 and the non-gazetted staff would get Nepali Rs.500,000 each in case of sustaining injuries or death while on poll duty.

The decision, which is yet to be officially confirmed, comes after the Maoist threat to disrupt the municipal elections and to take action against contestants as well as officials.

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