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Nepal's Election Commission today said it will hold the third phase of local level elections on September 18 after postponing it twice in eight districts of Madhes-centric Province 2, bordering India.
In a statement, EC spokesman Nawaraj Dhakal called on the political parties, their candidates and other stakeholders to refrain from campaigning until the voting comes to an end.
"The parties should stay away from holding election campaigns and stop using SMS, Facebook and Viber to ask for votes," the spokesman said.
The voting in eight districts of southern Nepal adjoining India will begin from 7 am and conclude at 5 pm.
The first round of polls were held on May 14 in Provinces 3, 4 and 6. The 35 districts of Provinces 1, 5 and 7 went to polls in the second phase.
Though the local polls were earlier scheduled for two phases, the second phase had to be postponed twice -- and a third phase had to be declared -- in a bid to accommodate the dissenting parties, including the Madhesis.
The use of sticker, cap, logo, bag, muffler, tatoo etc., symbolic of electoral candidates and political parties are strictly prohibited during the silence period that begins 48 hours prior to the polls in an election.
All political parties including the Rastriya Janata Party Nepal (RJPN), a key Madhesi party, are taking part in the polls. The RJPN had boycotted the first and second phase of local-level elections, as they expressed reservation to taking part in the polls without fulfilling their demands.
Madhesis, mostly of Indian-origin, launched a prolonged agitation between September 2015 and February last year against the implementation of the new Constitution which they felt marginalised the community.
Some Madhes-centric parties had opposed the elections on the ground that the new Constitution be amended to accommodate their views: more representation in the Parliament and redrawing of provincial boundaries.
The local-level polls are being held in Nepal for the first time in almost two decades. Millions of Nepalese have voted in the first two phases of the polls as the Himalayan nation takes a crucial step towards cementing democracy amid political turmoil.
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