The US today welcomed the first local-level polls in Nepal in two decades, saying that the election appears to have been "largely peaceful and broadly supported". The US has urged all the stakeholders to create a conducive environment for conducting second phase of local polls in Provinces 1, 2, 5 and 7, according to a US Embassy statement here. The US government has called for continued efforts to forge a political agreement that enables broadest participation of voters in the phase two elections. The US government has also urged the Nepal Government to allow unrestricted international election observation during the second round of polls on June 14. "This will increase the credibility of the electoral process and strengthen democratic transition across the country," the statement said. Meanwhile, the vote counting of the local polls, has continued, though in a slower pace, in which ruling Nepali Congress and CPN-Maoist Centre, and main opposition CPN-UML have been leading in most of the places. The first phase of the local elections on May 14 took place peacefully at 281 local units out of 283 in province 3, 4 and 6.
The second round of polls in provinces 1, 2, 5 and 7 will be held on June 14. Local-level elections could not be held after 1997 largely as a result of the decade-long Maoist insurgency that claimed more than 16,000 lives in Nepal. Nepal has been witnessing political instability. Some Madhes-centric parties have opposed the elections until the new Constitution is amended to accommodate their views: more representation in the Parliament and redrawing of provincial boundaries. The Nepal government has tabled a new Constitution amendment bill in the Parliament to address the demands of the agitating Madhesis. 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 Terai community.
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