Top leaders cast vote in Nepal polls 2008

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Kathmandu, Apr 10: Nepal's top political leaders, including Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala, Maoist Chairman Prachanda and Unified Marxist Leninist (UML) General Secretary Madhav Kumar Nepal today cast their votes in their respective home districts.

The voters are casting two ballots each - one under First-Past-The-Post (FPTP) and another under Proportional Representation (PR) categories. The FPTP system will elect 240 members and the PR system will elect 335 members to the Constituent Assembly (CA). Koirala, who is contesting the CA election under the PR system, cast his ballot at the polling booth in Biratnagar in Morang District.

Prachanda cast his ballot at the Laxmi Higher Secondary School in Chitwan District surrounded by his security guards, which included over two dozen Armed Police Force (APF) personnel. "I feel proud to have cast the vote on this historic day. This day marks the death of the feudal monarchical system. Pro-republic and progressive forces have already won this election," claimed Prachanda.

Prachanda is contesting the election from the Rolpa Constituency. Madhav Kumar Nepal cast his vote along with his father and son at a polling center in Koteshwor in Kathmandu District.

"We have come to this important juncture of history after a long struggle and as we vote we are also making history," Nepal said, adding, "After the election and the results are out, the first priority would be to decide the fate of monarchy and the kind of government that would be formed."

Nepal, who is also contesting from Rautaha District, said that from a personal point of view, this election was significant for him because three generations of his family were casting their votes together. Enthusiastic voters were seen standing in long queues from as early as 6:00 a.m.

According to local reports, some of the voters said they did not mind the long queue as they were very excited to be able to vote in the first CA election that will draft a new Constitution for the country and is expected to abolish the institution of monarchy.

Meanwhile, polling has been cancelled in two centres in Meghauli of Chitwan District following a dispute between the Maoist cadres and supporters of other parties. It has also been cancelled at Balkot in Arghakhanchi District after the Maoists reportedly tried to capture the booth.

Polling has also been postponed in six polling centres in different districts following disputes between the cadres of political parties and attempts of booth capturing. Election Commission (EC) officials said that polling might resume in some of these centres after negotiation with political parties.

According to media reports, the Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) cadres have captured a booth in Rangkhni of Baglung District. The Nepali Congress (NC) cadres attempted to capture a polling booth in a constituency in Siraha District. In the same constituency, Young Communist League (YCL) cadres and police fired at each other, but nobody was injured in the incident.

Meanwhile, one person was killed and two others injured when unidentified persons opened fire near a polling centre in Parsapatauli of Mahottari District.

A total of 55 parties are taking part in the election, in which 3970 candidates, including 367 women and 3580 men are in the fray for FPTP election. total of 5701 candidates, including one half of women, nearly two thousand Madhesis, over 600 Dalits, over 2000 Janajatis, and nearly 200 from backward regions and over 1700 from other groups are in the fray for PR election.

The government has mobilised 45,000 armed police personnel, 48,000 general police and about 75,000 temporary police to maintain law and order and to hold the polls in a free and fair atmosphere. There are about 100,000 national observers and about 800 international observers observing the polls in over 21,000 polling stations across the country. The elections have been delayed twice, in part because of an armed ethnic uprising in Nepal's southeastern plains.

The polling is being held two years after street protests forced King Gyanendra to cede power and brought the Maoists out of the jungle. Under a peace deal, the rebels agreed to sequester nearly 20,000 fighters and to lock up their weapons under United Nations supervision.

ANI

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