With Nepal’s Maoists widening the lead in the Constituent Assembly Polls, Nepalis the world over are hooked on to TV, FM radio, local newspaper or the internet in getting the latest results. In fact, Nepalese people who usually celebrated their Bikram Sambat New Year on Baishak 1, greeting one another and expressing joy, happiness and prosperity to each other were found more concerned about the electoral results than celebrating. Even traditional party go-getter venues such as the Soaltee Crown Plaza, Hotel de l’ Annapurna, Malla Hotel and Radisson were found catering to a lower crowd turnout than earlier years with fewer expatriate local Nepali party revelers. Most of all, tourists seemed to be relishing the Nepali New Year more than the locals this year. The Internet Cafes in major Nepali urban locations are mostly open 24 hours, since the results can be viewed on-line on a continuous basis.
Traditionally, the Nepal King’s New Year’s message used to be followed by the Prime Minister on New Years Day. But this year, it has only been King Gyanendra Shah’s message that has been released. The King has stated, “Along with peace and democracy, may the New Year 2065 B.S inspire us all to uphold our legendary wisdom in ensuring that our national pride, its distinctive values and identity remain uppermost. The enthusiastic participation of the Nepalese people in the Constituent Assembly elections, through which they have emphatically reiterated their firm resolve not to compromise the nation's existence, independence and integrity under any circumstance, is a source of satisfaction for us.” The King’s significant message comes at a time when various ex-Seven party Alliance Members were earlier indicating that the first sitting of the Parliament would decide on whether they would continue with Monarchy or else adopt a Republican-Federalist line.
The Carter Center, ANFRIL, Japanese election monitoring team, other observers from Asian and Western countries have all fully endorsed the CA Polls as being fair, free and impartial. President Carter has called it revolutionary and a model for other countries to follow. The U.S., India, and China were the first three countries to endorse the CA Poll results appealing to the Nepali people to accept the results as their true democratic voice in transitioning to a New Nepal. So far there has been no reaction from Baluwatar, the Nepalese PM’s resident to NC’s dismal performance, but it is believed Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala is completely dismayed, but will continue as Prime Minister for the next few weeks.
Right now the Maoists lead 54-16 (over UML and NC). The Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (MJF) has managed to win seven seats so far with the party’s charismatic chairman Upendra Yadav winning from both Sunsari-5 and Morang-5. Upendra Yadav managed to trounce Sujata Koirala 23,939 to 8,885 in Sunsari 5, besides winning Morang Constituency 5. This is the second defeat for the Koirala clan with Koirala’s close confidante Sushil Koirala already defeated forcing him to resign as Acting President of NC.
Yesterday, Maoist Chairman Prachanda had stated his party would continue establishing close ties with India and China and work closely with the international community to guarantee the Nepali people, freedom, democracy and economic prosperity. So far, one fifth of the votes of the 601 member assembly are declared, of which 575 are elected and 26 nominated, with 75 up for re-polling. The current Maoist landslide win is expected to continue and even influence voter behavior in other polling centers where voting is rescheduled.
The UK government has also welcomed the continuing CA Poll results. British Foreign secretary David Miliband stated, "This was an important day in the history of Nepal…While I was saddened by the instances of violence and misconduct that occurred, the Election Commission's reports of a strong voter turnout are encouraging, as are the positive assessments of the conduct of the polls made by the EU and other observer missions." The United Kingdom has nonetheless congratulated Nepal for holding "largely peaceful" elections. Milband has further urged the international observers to continue monitoring the process during the period in which the votes are counted and results announced, while insisting that during this period, and as the Constituent Assembly is formed in the near future, "it is important that the political parties respect the will of the people and use agreed mechanisms to resolve any disputes…the UK urges them to work together to tackle the critical political and socio-economic issues facing Nepal, so that the people of Nepal can be confident that the future will be peaceful and prosperous. The UK stands ready to assist in building the new Nepal." Earlier, the US, India, UN and China along with EU observation committee chairman, had hailed the Nepali people’s peaceful polling and democratic voting exhibited at the CA Poll which was twice postponed due to lack of political consensus among Nepal’s former Seven party Alliance.
(Surya B. Prasai is an independent global strategic communications, media, and international development resource consultant who writes frequently for this and other global media)
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