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Nepal Maoist chief casts vote in crucial polls

Charismatic leader of Nepal's Maoists, Prachanda, is among the first to cast his vote in Nepal's landmark elections.

world Updated: Apr 10, 2008 10:32 IST


The charismatic leader of Nepal's Maoists was among the first to cast his vote in landmark elections on Thursday, and was confident of winning support for his vision of radical change.

Looking dapper in a grey herringbone suit and pale green shirt, Prachanda arrived at the school in his hometown south of the capital just minutes after it opened to voters.

"I am very happy," he told AFP, moments after casting his ballot.

"The dreams of thousands of martyrs have come true. We are making a new history for Nepal and it is really fantastic."

Prachanda, whose name means "the fierce one", spent a decade fighting the national army in a deadly insurgency to topple the Himalayan nation's monarchy.

In 2006 he signed up for peace with mainstream parties, and Thursday's polls -- the climax of that landmark peace process -- will elect an assembly to rewrite the constitution and likely sack King Gyanendra and abolish the monarchy.

"Change and peace are on the minds of the people," Prachanda said confidently. "This is a new Nepal. A new Nepal needs new leadership."