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Nepal votes, makes history

world Updated: Apr 11, 2008 02:58 IST
Anirban Roy
Anirban Roy
Hindustan Times
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Against all odds Nepal created a history of sorts by holding the Constituent Assembly elections after nine years on Thursday.

Enthusiastic voters across the country stood in long queues from early morning to exercise their franchise.

"We could never imagine that the elections would be ever possible in Nepal," Neelam Sharma, a young voter in Kalimati, Kathmandu, said. The general euphoria of the polls was visible in most parts of the country as people thronged the polling stations even braving threats by militant outfits.

Chief Election Commissioner, Bhoj Raj Pokhrel, claimed that 60 per cent of votes were registered. The polling percentage has been comparatively lower than the last general election in 1999, which recorded 65.79 per cent votes. Pokhrel claimed that the election has been a major success and it would be a model for several other countries across the globe. "The biggest challenge is to conduct elections in post-conflict situation," he said.

Former US President Jimmy Carter, who has been a key observer of the CA election, termed the vote as a "ground-breaking event which is being closely watched by the whole world". Unfortunately, the election has not been violence-free despite repeated appeals by Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala.

Three people were killed in poll-related violence across the country. Unidentified militants gunned down Sambhu Singh, an independent candidate in Sunsari district.

One Nepali Congress cadre was shot dead in Sunsari district, while a voter was killed in a stampede after unidentified persons opened fire near a polling station at Parsapatauli in Mahottari district.

Senior Nepali Congress leader and candidate Dhanusha district, Leela Koirala, had a miraculous escape when All Terai Liberation Tigers militants opened fire at her near Saraswoti School polling centre in Janakpur.

According to reports from 75 districts, 85 people were injured in clashes between political parties, and more than 50 people have also been kidnapped.