Armies still key factor in Nepal polls

April 12th, 2008 - 1:02 pm ICT by admin  

By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, April 12 (IANS) Though Nepal held its first national election after nine years under a truce with its former Maoist guerrillas laying down their arms, the armies of the state as well as the former guerrillas still remain a key factor in deciding the poll results. Counting started amidst tight security after Thursday’s historic constituent assembly election and the first trends showed the Maoists taking the lead in 32 of the 71 constituencies where counting had started. But the real picture would emerge much later since Nepal is following a complicated mixed voting system.

For the 601-member constituent assembly, that will decide the fate of the country’s embattled monarchy and write a pro-people constitution, only 240 representatives will be elected on the basis of direct fights.

The bulk of the seats - 335 - are to be decided on the basis of proportional representation, in which voters cast their ballots in favour of parties and not contestants, while the remaining 26 are to be nominated.

While the Maoists, who are fighting the battle of the ballot after 17 years, have been doing unexpectedly well in the direct fight, thanks to the large number of young voters who want a change in leadership, and the image of corruption and inefficiency dogging the traditional parties, the proportional representation system could favour their rivals.

Of the 17.6 million voters, over 60 percent of whom turned up to take part in Thursday’s election, a bloc of over 100,000 is expected to vote against the rebels.

These are the security forces, including the Nepal Army, that was the rebels’ b

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