On November 19, 2013 Nepal successfully held its second round of Constituent Assembly elections. The purpose of the new Constituent Assembly elections is to elect representatives to draft a new constitution. Following the dissolution of the first Constituent Assembly, which failed to reach a consensus on a new constitution, an interim government headed by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Nepal was formed to hold another round of elections. All three of the largest parties from the previous elections: Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist); Nepali Congress; and Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist–Leninist) are among the dozens of political parties contending.
The Nepal Election Commission has reported that a record number of ballots have been cast with preliminary estimates suggesting turnout was about 70%. This estimate compares with 60% during the last election in 2008. Some 12 million voters were eligible to vote for the 601-member Constituent Assembly. Analysts have hailed the high turnout in polls as vital to democracy and for cementing a peace process seven years after the civil war ended. Reports on the elections have deemed it largely peaceful with some scattered news of violence.
U.S. President Jimmy Carter and former Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand Dr. Surakiart Sathirathai co-led the Carter Center’s delegation to observe Nepal’s constituent assembly election. The Center’s mission included more than 50 observers representing 27 nations deployed throughout the country. The Center also observed Nepal’s first constituent assembly election in 2008. In a statement by the Press Secretary at the White House today, United States congratulated the people of Nepal on their elections. Nepalese officials have begun tabulation of votes but the final results of the balloting are not expected for at least three weeks.