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Nepal Maoists take shock lead in early vote count PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 13 April 2008

REUTERS, KATHMANDU - Nepal's Maoist former rebels took a shock early lead on Saturday in an election aimed at cementing a peace deal that ended a decade-long civil war.

Early tallies from Thursday's elections showed the Maoists, who say they are committed to democracy but are still classified as a terrorist organisation by the United States, were leading in 61 out of 121 constituencies where counting had begun.

They had also won 11 out of the 20 constituencies where results had been declared, election officials said. "At the rate it is going, the Maoists will be the number one party," said Kunda Dixit, editor of the weekly Nepali Times.

"Trends so far suggest that there was an overwhelming desire on the part of mostly young voters for change, peace and development," he said.

"They have voted for the Maoists so that they don't go back to jungles."

Final results of the polls, Nepal's first in nine years, could take around 10 days and are almost certain to lead to a coalition government, analysts say. But Maoists were jubilant.

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