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Nepal election

Healthy turnout, little violence reported in historic poll

Article published on the 2008-04-10 Latest update 2008-04-23 09:45 TU

Maoist leader Prachanda welcomed by his supporters (Photo : Nicolas Vescovacci/RFI)

Maoist leader Prachanda welcomed by his supporters
(Photo : Nicolas Vescovacci/RFI)

This is a historic vote which comes after ten years of civil war and two years of political turmoil.

On the eve of the poll, the leader of the Maoist former guerrillas, Pushpa Kamal Dahal, better-known as Prachanda, appealed for calm, despite the fact that several of his supporters have been shot dead, apparently by police.  

"We are making new history for Nepal and it is fantastic," he declared after voting in Chitwan district, 100 kilometres south of Kathmandu.

The campaign was not so peaceful, with several killings and allegations of intimidation by Maoists.

Election commission chief Bhojraj Patel expected 65% of the 18 million registered voters to cast their ballot.

The main parties contesting the poll, apart from the Maoists, are the centrist Nepali Congress and the slightly more left-wing Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist).

Veteran Nepali political journalist, CK Lal, told RFI that voters have three main things on their minds.

"They anticipate that, once these elections are over, the risk of the Maoist violence would be stopped ; two, there would be a consensus kind of a government; and three, with the constituent assembly elections over, the government will be able to concentrate on challenges of government."

The next parliament is set to redraft the constitution and may abolish the monarchy.