Maoist Party in Nepal Rejects Elections

By Binaj Gurubacharya 21 November 2013

KATHMANDU — Nepal’s Maoist party, which appeared to be losing during initial ballot counting from this week’s election, demanded Thursday that the vote counting be stopped because of what it says were massive irregularities.

United Communist Party of Nepal Maoists spokesman Agni Sapkota issued a brief statement alleging several conspiracies and irregularities, but did not give details. The party’s representatives walked out of the polling stations where votes are being counted.

Results have not been declared yet after vote counting began Wednesday in many of the 75 districts in Nepal. But initial counting showed that the Maoists were trailing the Nepali Congress party and the Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist-Leninist).

The Maoist party got the largest number of votes in the last election in 2008.

Chief Election Commissioner Neel Kantha Upreti said vote counting was continuing and there were no plans to stop it.

The Maoists are former communist rebels who fought government troops between 1996 and 2006. They gave up their armed revolt, joined a peace process and mainstream politics, and their fighters have joined the national army.

The Constituent Assembly, which was set up as part of the peace process, was first elected in 2008 but failed to complete the task of writing a new constitution. Tuesday’s election was to elect a new assembly to attempt again at writing a constitution.

More than 70 percent of the 12 million eligible voters cast their votes during Tuesday’s election to choose the 601-member Constituent Assembly that would double as the parliament.

Officials called the election successful and mostly free of violence, although a bomb blast near a polling station in Katmandu injured three people and police had to fire into the air in one village when opposition activists stormed a polling station. Pre-election violence injured at least 30 people after an alliance of 33 opposition parties vowed to disrupt the polls and blocked transport routes.

Final election results will take at least a week. None of the political parties is predicted to win a majority and a coalition government is likely, which could take days to form after the final results are announced.

The last assembly, elected in 2008, failed to come up with a constitution because of squabbling among political leaders over who got to lead the nation. They also disagreed on creating a federal system divided by ethnic groups or by geography. The resulting power vacuum has left Nepal without a proper constitution for nearly seven years.