Vote counting begins in Nepal

    By IANS,

    Kathmandu : Millions of Nepalese are eagerly waiting for the final results of the second Constituent Assembly elections, the voting for which were held Tuesday.

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    Counting of ballots began across Nepal Wednesday after a 70 percent voter turnout Tuesday, which Nepal’s Election Commission termed as overwhelming and historic.

    This will seal the fate of around 17,000 candidates – 6,126 under the first-past-the-post system and 10,709 under the proportional representative system – belonging to 122 political parties in the fray for 575 Constituent Assembly seats out of 601. The rest 26 will be nominated by the cabinet representing various walks of lives after formation of the new Constituent Assembly.

    According to initial reports coming from various districts, counting of votes has started. In Kathmandu constituency No.10, where United Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-M) chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal is contesting, counting has began.

    In all, candidates for 240 seats will be directly elected by the electorate from 75 districts of Nepal while rest of the seats are being allocated on the basis of proportional representation.

    Another 26 members will be nominated by the cabinet on the basis of national consensus to fill the 601-member house.

    The pie of proportional representation is bigger than the direct elections because these elections are for a Constituent Assembly and are not regular or periodic elections.

    The strength of last Constituent Assembly was also 601, representing various walks of lives which was also termed as most inclusive house in South Asia.

    “There are certain formalities to fulfill before counting the votes. As soon as all ballot boxes are gathered in the district headquarters, we will begin with the counting. It will take one week to find out the results of the first-past-the-post,” said Chief Election Commissioner of Nepal Nil Kantha Uprety Tuesday after the voting concluded.

    Almost 80 percent of the ballot boxes have been collected so far in almost all districts and the rest will be delivered at district headquarters by Wednesday afternoon, said Nepal Police spokesperson Ganesh K.C.

    “We are facing difficulties in remote districts. We have planned to bring the boxes by choppers,” he added.

    The huge turnout of voters has triggered much speculation.

    “What we can guess is that some traditional forces who supported the deposed monarchy may gain and Maoists may lose significantly this time,” said Surendra K.C., a professor of political science.

    Nepal’s first Constituent Assembly elected in 2008 failed to promulgate the much-awaited constitution that is to institutionalise the republic established in 2008 after the 240-year long monarchy was toppled.

    In the previous elections, 54 political parties were in the fray, and 25 of them found representation in the 601-member Constituent Assembly, which was dissolved last year.

    The UCPN-M had emerged as the largest party in the previous polls.