Nepal Maoists lead vote count, set to become largest party

Other News Materials 12 April 2008 11:08 (UTC +04:00)

(dpa) - Nepal's former Maoist rebels, the Communist Party of Nepal, lead ongoing ballot counts in the country's vote for its constituent assembly, officials said Saturday.

The Election Commission said the Maoists had won five seats in the nine results declared, and were leading in 59 further election districts, setting the party on course to become the largest party in the assembly.

The assembly is tasked with drafting a new constitution for the country and will also ratify a decision of the interim parliament to abolish the monarchy. The vote is a key part of the peace agreement that ended Nepal's decade-long communist insurgency and brought the rebels into the mainstream.

Analysts said the vote showed Nepalese had opted for a change but also given a clear message to the parties that they should remain united.

"It appears that the Maoists are set to become the biggest party in the constituent assembly, but may not get the two-thirds majority needed to draft the constitution on their own," analyst Shyam Shrestha said.

"The vote also makes it certain that the country will become a federal republic and an end to monarchy," Shrestha said.

The Nepali Congress and Communist Party of Nepal - Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML) have each won two seats so far.

In projections, the Nepali Congress was projected to be ahead in just 20 districts, and the CPN-UML with in 13.

"We are happy that the people have spoken," Raj Kumar Tamang, a Maoist supporter, said ahead of a planned Maoist victory rally in Kathmandu suburb. "We hope the Maoists will do something for the people."

"If this party doesn't deliver, we will have to seek other alternatives and this party will be set aside too," another supporter said.

A regional party in the south that championed the cause of the ethnic Madhesi community also appeared to have done well.

It was leading in at least eight constituencies and was expected to lead in more seats in the south as the trends become available.

The Election Commission said 60 polling centres would need to repeat voting later this month.

Nepalese voted for the 601-seat assembly on Thursday. Of the total seats, 240 members were chosen through direct voting, while 335 are to be chosen on the basis of proportional representation.

The remaining 26 seats will be nominated by the government formed after the elections.