US congratulates Nepalese people on 'historic polls'

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Washington, Apr 16: The US State Department has congratulated the people of Nepal on their historic Constituent Assembly election, urging calm and respect for the democratic process in the weeks ahead. ''We look forward to the formation of an assembly that reflects the will of the Nepali people, ready to begin the important work of framing a constitution that addresses their needs,'' Department Spokesman Sean McCormack said in a written statement.

''Although there was considerable violence and intimidation during the pre-election period and some instances of voting irregularities on election day,'' he pointed out, ''Nepali voters were able to cast their ballots peacefully in most districts.'' Over the next days and weeks, as complete results of these polls become known, the United States urges patience and nonviolent observance of the democratic process, the US official said.

According to reports, election officials in Katmandu said yesterday that the Maoist Communist Party of Nepal has won at least 113 seats of about 200 declared so far from Thursday's elections. A full vote count from all 240 constituencies is expected to take weeks.

The United States has listed the Maoists Communist Party as a terrorist organisation. The new Assembly, which will have 601 seats, will rewrite the country's constitution.

Of the 601 seats in the constitutional assembly, 240 are being filled by direct election and another 335 by proportional representation from the entire vote. The remaining 26 seats will be nominated by the Cabinet.


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