Ballot wins over bullet in Nepal


KATHMANDU, Nepal (eTN) – In a historic step towards peace and stability in the country, Nepal has successfully conducted the much-awaited election of Constituent Assembly (CA) on April 10. Contrary to the predicted violence and disturbance, the election was held peacefully with an overwhelming voter turn-out of over 60 percent.

This was the first election after 10 years of insurgency in the country. The members of CA are to give birth to a new constitution for the Republic Nepal, paving the way for a “new Nepal.”

International organizations and famous political figures including former US President Jimmy Carter actively observed the election proceedings. Mr. Carter, along with his wife, visited polling booths in Kathmandu and encouraged Nepalese citizens by showing his support for the Himalayan country. He had said he enjoyed trekking in the Everest region two decades back and fell in love with Nepal ever since.

Like the success of the recent election, the results were unexpected for many including the Nepal Communist Party (Maoist). The Maoists party enjoyed a landslide victory with 118 seats in their name, whereas the leading parties like the Nepali Congress and the Unified Marxist-Leninist received only 35 and 32, respectively, standing on second and third position. Nepalese voters showed enormous confidence on the Maoists party, which started the armed revolution to abolish the monarchy and turn the country into a democratic republic over a decade ago.

However, the overwhelming victory of the Maoists party was not taken positively by some stakeholders. The Nepal Stock Exchange dropped drastically following the release of initial election results. Stressing on their commitment towards a multi-party democracy and free market economy, Maoists supremo Pushpa Kamal Dahal, who is better known as Prachanda, has issued a statement re-assuring the focus of the new government would be on rapid economic growth for the country. Tourism and the hydro-electricity industries would garner priority to put Nepal on the fast track of economic growth.

Last year, Nepal enjoyed a 27.1 percent growth in visitors arriving by air. With the peaceful election now, Nepalese entrepreneurs are excited about lasting peace and can look forward to steady growth in tourism in the years to come.

In a related development, Maoists’ leader number two, Dr. Baburam Bhattarai, said that they might open the present Royal Palace (After the exit of King) for visitors. This would add another more sightseeing spot in Kathmandu. Visitors will find this palace of particular interest not only for its beautiful garden, but also because of its history. The palace was the site of the “Royal Massacre of June 2001,” when the family members of former King Birendra were killed in a shootout over Royal family dinner.