News

Maoists Performing Better than Expected as Nepal Counts Votes

Vote counting is under way in Nepal following the nation's historic constituent assembly election. Officials say preliminary reports indicate a high turnout and a low level of vote manipulation. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Kathmandu has the latest on the process that is expected to formally end more than 200 years of monarchy.

Ballot boxes are being flown by helicopter and hand-carried by porters to counting centers across this remote Himalayan country.

While there were a few incidents of violence, including some casualties, overall it appears that the first election here in nine years occurred with less trouble than predicted.

Aditi Bhaduri of the Asian Network for Free Elections says it is still premature, however, for international observers to render a verdict on the integrity of the election.

"Observers in Kathmandu are observing the counting. But most of our other observers are all coming back and we are having a debriefing about their observations yesterday across the five regions of Nepal. And tomorrow (Saturday) we'll be releasing our initial findings and observation," said Bhaduri.

Initial results show the centrist Nepal Congress Party leading in about half of the districts in the capital. The Maoists, who were expected to do well in many rural areas, are making a better-than-predicted showing in some urban districts.

The Maoists waged a decade-long civil war against the government to rid Nepal of the monarchy and have been in and out of the interim coalition government since signing a 2006 peace accord.

Their strong showing does not worry jewelry merchant Mohan Rajbanshi, who runs a shop inside one of Kathmandu's top hotels.

"They're also educated people and they will, I hope, make a good Nepal," he said.

No one party is expected to be dominant. Regardless of the outcome there is tremendous anticipation here that the election will end years of bloodshed and bring peace to this impoverished nation.

The 601-member special assembly is mandated to write a new constitution. The assembly is expected to formally put an end to the world's last Hindu monarchy, making Nepal a republic.

Nepal is heavily dependent on foreign aid and Japan is the largest donor among foreign countries.

An influential Japanese lawmaker who observed the election, Tadahiko Ito, told reporters Friday that while Nepal should not expect a boost in development assistance from Tokyo, the peaceful election will certainly yield economic dividends.

Ito says political stability will heighten interest about Nepal among Japanese investors.

Re-polling is expected to be needed at several dozen polling booths. Results for most, if not all, seats allocated by the constituency method are set to be announced in about 10 days. Two-thirds of the assembly will be seated through proportional representation and the complex calculation for those slots could take several weeks.

 


Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs