Kathmandu, April 9, 2008 Nepal goes to an historic election to the Constitution Assembly today as the country prepares to shift the gears to a republic amid violence, threats and voter intimidation. The assembly will serve as a parliament at least for the next two years while writing a new constitution to determine the nature of the state. Before that it will have to declare the country a federal democratic republic as per the interim parliament’s decision in December 2007. The assembly comprises 601 members, to be elected by a mixed electoral system made up of  first-past-the-post and  the proportional representation that send 240 and 335 representatives, respectively. The remaining 35 members will be nominated by the cabinet. A total of 3,947 candidates — including 367 women — are contesting the direct election from 55 parties, key among them being the Nepali Congress, the Communist Party of Nepal-UML and the CPN-Maoist. Under PR system, there are a total of 5,701 candidates from 54 parties. There are a total of 17.6 million voters and over 22,000 polling booths across the country. The election is expected to consolidate the peace process and pave the way for the institutionalisation of democracy in the country. The international community hopes that Nepal will set itself on the path of peace and stability after the election and move towards sustainable development and prosperity.

First result expected tomorrow: CEC Kathmandu, April 9, 2008 The Election Commission has stated that it is confident about free, fair and impartial constituent assembly election tomorrow, and has warned that anyone who attempts to rig the election would be punished as a criminal. “We hope that the parties concerned would not breach the election discipline. Those indulging in criminal acts would be punished,” said Chief Election Commissioner Bhoj Raj Pokharel organising a press conference on the eve of the election. On the possibility of rigging, he said the Commission could not predict such events and that it would cancel the election and conduct re-polling if the need be. Regarding security arrangements, he said the EC, in coordination with the government, has been reviewing the security situation in the sensitive constituencies on daily basis. “Eight helicopters have been conducting aerial surveillance in all sensitive constituencies in remote areas and they can make an immediate intervention if any untoward incident took place,” he added. Pokharel said communication mechanism has also been established in around 10,000 polling centres and a mechanism was also in place to promptly obtain any information from any of the centres. Regarding yesterday’s violent incidents in Surkhet and Dang districts, Pokharel appreciated the role of the government and the parties concerned to normalise the situation there. On the election results, he said results could be expected from Friday.