Nepal Maoist chief loses seat in elections
21 November 2013, 20:45
Kathmandu - Nepal's former Maoist rebel leader lost his seat on Thursday in this week's national elections, state television reported, as he alleged poll-rigging and called for a halt to the vote count.
Pushpa Kamal Dahal, known better as Prachanda, came third in his Kathmandu constituency, trailing the winning candidate from the Nepali Congress party by more than 7 500 votes, state-run Nepal Television said.
Early results showed the leftists doing badly in the polls, which are seen as key in completing a peace process seven years after a decade-long civil war ended, leaving 16 000 people dead.
Millions of Nepalis voted on Tuesday, with a turnout of 70%, even higher than the first post-war elections for a constituent assembly in 2008, when the former Maoist rebels entered politics and swept the polls.
"We urge the election commission to stop the counting," Prachanda told a press conference on Thursday.
"We accept [the] people's verdict but cannot accept conspiracy and poll-rigging," he said.
His claims throw the result of the elections into doubt as well as the completion of the peace process, which has drifted in recent years because of political deadlock.
The Maoist chief, who has faced flak over alleged corruption and his taste for luxury following the war, said ballot boxes were tampered with while being transported from polling stations to counting centres.
Tentative results showed the Maoists leading in just 6% of the 159 constituencies where vote counting is well under way.
Even if the party were to sweep the remaining 81 directly-elected seats, they would have won less than 49% of the overall vote.
More than 100 parties, including three major ones, the Unified Marxist-Leninist, the Nepali Congress and the Maoists have fielded candidates for the second constituent assembly.