Nepal’s Maoists said on Saturday they would lead the next government as they staged a victory rally with poll results showing them on track to emerge as the country’s biggest party.
The April 10 polls were the climax of the 2006 peace deal between the Maoists and mainstream political parties, and the former rebels have confounded analysts and diplomats who forecast they would come in third at best. “We will lead the next government after the final results of the elections. The people’s mandate has clearly given us the responsibility to head the new government," Maoist information minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara said.
Mahara’s statements came as Maoist supporters feted the party’s strong showing on the outskirts of the capital Kathmandu.
Cheering supporters wreathed party leader Prachanda with marigold garlands and smudged red powder on his forehead as musicians beat drums in celebration.
A beaming Prachanda waded into crowds of supporters in the market place where the rally was held, shaking hands and waving to people watching from building windows above the crowds.
The fiercely republican Maoists fought a deadly 10-year insurgency to topple the monarchy and install a communist republic, but now say they are ready to embrace multi-party democracy. Full results are expected by the end of next week.