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Maoists lead as counting begins in Nepal

By Shirish B Pradhan in Kathmandu
April 11, 2008 22:38 IST
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Maoists appeared to be doing well in the landmark national elections in Nepal, with early trends on Friday night showing the former rebels leading in at least 32 out of 40 constituencies, as authorities began the grueling task of counting of votes.

The elections, which are set to usher in democracy ending the 40-year monarchy, saw the first seat going to Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala's Nepali Congress party, whose candidate Prkash Man Singh won one of the constituencies in Kathmandu.

Maoist chairman Prachanda, Maoist war time strategist Ram Bahadur Thpa (Badal), its spokesman Krishna Bahadur Mahara and two female Maoist leaders Pampha  Bhushal and Hisila Yami are leading in their respective constituencies. Prachanda is leading in Kathmandu -10 and Badal is leading in Chitawan –2 while Mahara is leading in Dang -3.
The Maoists were poised to sweep Western Terai, hilly districts and the Kathmandu valley.

The Nepali Congress was leading in four constituencies while the CPN-UML and Nepal Workers and Peasants Party were leading in two constituencies each. However, CPN-UML general secretary Madhav Kumar Nepal was trailing in Kathmandu-2 to a Maoist candidate.

Former premier and NC leader Sher Bahadur Deuba is leading from Kanchandpur-4.

The former stronghold of CNP-UML--Kathmandu-- is seeing a fight mainly between NC and the Maoists.

The good showing of Maoists is being seen as the peace bonus given by the people for coming to the mainstream politics, by ending a decade long armed conflict, which claimed 14,000 lives.

The election of a 601-seat Constituent Assembly to write a new constitution has been billed as the cornerstone of a 2006 peace deal struck with Maoists.

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Shirish B Pradhan in Kathmandu
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