KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) — The leader of Nepal’s Maoist party, who appears to have lost in this week’s national election, demanded Thursday that the vote counting be stopped because of what he called massive irregularities.
The irregularities occurred during transporting of ballot boxes and also during the counting, said Pushpa Kamal Dahal, leader of the United Communist Party of Nepal Maoists.
“We are demanding an immediate stop to the vote counting and an independent probe into the allegations,” Dahal said, adding his party could boycott the Constituent Assembly if its demands are not addressed.
He said the party has reports of ballots boxes being hidden for hours, and of ballot boxes being switched while being transported to counting centers, and that several boxes had gone missing.
Dahal’s statement came as election officials announced that he lost in a Katmandu constituency, coming in third in what had been thought to be a Maoist stronghold.
So far only two seats have been announced and both were won by Nepali Congress party candidates, while initial counting in other districts showed that the Maoists were trailing the Nepali Congress party and the Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist-Leninist).
The Maoist party won the largest number of votes in the last election in 2008.
Chief Election Commissioner Neel Kantha Upreti said there were no plans to stop the vote counting.
The Maoists are former communist rebels who fought government troops between 1996 and 2006. They gave up their armed revolt, joined a peace process and mainstream politics, and their fighters have joined the national army.
The Constituent Assembly, which was set up as part of the peace process, was first elected in 2008 but failed to complete the task of writing a new constitution. Tuesday’s election was to elect a new assembly to attempt again at writing a constitution.
More than 70 percent of the 12 million eligible voters cast their votes during Tuesday’s election to choose the 601-member Constituent Assembly that would double as the parliament.
Final election results will take at least a week. None of the political parties is predicted to win a majority and a coalition government is likely, which could take days to form after the final results are announced.
The last assembly, elected in 2008, failed to come up with a constitution because of squabbling among political leaders over who got to lead the nation. They also disagreed on creating a federal system divided by ethnic groups or by geography. The resulting power vacuum has left Nepal without a proper constitution for nearly seven years.