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Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Maoists lead as Nepal heads for hung assembly

REUTERS, KATHMANDU - Nepal's former Maoist rebels have won half the directly elected seats in a crucial election meant to cement a shaky peace deal, but are only likely to head a minority government at the end of a complex election.

The Maoists bagged 120 of 240 seats contested in a first-past-the-post constituency system, official results showed on Tuesday.

Unofficial tallies published by newspapers showed the former guerrillas winning around 30 percent of the vote in a contest for a further 335 seats allotted by proportional representation.

The results from the proportional representation contest are expected by Wednesday evening.

"The real picture will be known once the counting of votes from the proportional representation election is done," Election Commission spokesman Laxman Bhattarai said.

"It is unlikely the Maoists will get a simple majority. They are likely to be the single-largest party."

The new cabinet will nominate the remaining 26 members of the 601-member assembly, meant to write a new constitution, abolish Nepal's 240-year-old monarchy and serve as a parliament for at least two years.

The election is seen as key to cementing a 2006 peace accord which brought an end to a 10-year-long civil war that killed some 13,000 people.

The Maoists, who campaigned promising change in one of the world's poorest countries, have already begun courting other political parties in an effort to form a coalition government.
But analysts say Nepal's history of squabble-laden politics and the reluctance of some top parties to join a Maoist-led government could delay the formation of a new government.

The following shows the results in all 240 constituencies:

Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) 120

Nepali Congress 37

Communist UML 33

Madheshi People's Rights Forum 30

Terai Madhesh Democratic Party 9

Sadbhavana Party 4

Nepal Workers' and Peasants' Party 2
People's Front Nepal 2

Independent 2

National People's Front 1

Total seats declared 240

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