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.
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.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs