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Nepal votes for new Constituent Assembly

By:  Tupaki Desk   |   19 Nov 2013 8:09 AM GMT
Voting began across Nepal Tuesday to elect a Constituent Assembly which is expected to write a new constitution within a year to bring an end to a period of political instability in the Himalayan nation.

People lined up in front of polling stations to cast their votes since early morning.

"Polling commenced in a peaceful way from 7 a.m. across the country," Xinhua quoted the Election Commission as saying.

Around 200,000 security personnel, including from the Nepal Army, were mobilised for providing security to the candidates and voters. Public as well as private vehicles have been banned from the streets till Tuesday midnight.

However, a bomb went off in the capital near a polling station, in which three children were injured. They were admitted to Bir Hospital, Xinhua reported.

In another incident, a voting centre at Chamunda Hadakot in Dailekh constituency No. 2 was attacked by cadres of the poll-opposing Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-M), who stole the ballot box.

Voting at the centre was stalled after police fired in the air to bring the situation under control, reported.

The CPN-M, a breakaway faction of the United Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist, has boycotted the elections.

A total of 12,147,865 voters registered with the Election Commission are expected to cast their votes.

Voter ID cards were introduced to make the election process transparent. Around 17,000 candidates from 120 political parties are in the fray for 575 seats under both the direct and proportional representation election systems.

The remaining 26 members will be nominated by the cabinet on the basis of national consensus.

In the previous elections, 54 political parties were in fray, and 25 out of them were elected in the 601-member Constituent Assembly, which was dissolved last year without delivering a new constitution.

The United Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-M) had emerged as a largest party in the previous polls.

"I voted (for the) second time with a hope that parties will draft a new constitution within a year. The new constitution will lead us to stability and prosperity," Shankar Dhakal, who voted from Kathmandu, told Xinhua in the morning.

Nepal is holding its second Constituent Assembly elections after the first assembly elected in 2008 failed to promulgate the much-awaited constitution that will institutionalise the republic established in 2008 after the 240-year long monarchy was toppled.