Nepal votes to elect new assembly, a second attempt to form constitution

A Nepalese woman drops her vote into a ballot box at a polling station in Kathmandu on Novemeber 19, 2013.

Story highlights

  • Nepal has been trying to draft a constitution for five years
  • The 601-seat assembly will double as the parliament
  • An alliance of 33 parties have vowed to disrupt polling
Nepalis went to the polls Tuesday amid tight security to elect an assembly that will draw up a new constitution.
The tiny Himalayan nation has been trying since 2008 to draft a constitution. When it failed to reach any kind of agreement last year, Nepal dissolved its parliament -- paving the way for Tuesday's vote.
The 601-seat constituent assembly will double as the parliament.
The army has been called in to help police provide security after an alliance of 33 parties vowed to disrupt polling.
Despite fears, officials and reports say that voters turned up in large numbers in the 18,438 polling centers across the country to choose assembly members. About 12 million people are eligible to vote.
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"Except in a few places, elections are being held peacefully," police spokesman Ganesh K. C. said.
In the capital Kathmandu, an 8-year-old boy was injured Tuesday morning when an object he found on the street that he thought was a toy exploded, police said.
Earlier reports said that three people had been injured.
In Dang district, about 350 kilometres (217 miles) southwest of Kathmandu, three people were arrested with explosives-making materials, K.C. said.
The anti-poll alliance called a country-wide transport strike in the runup to the elections. But people largely ignored the call and are voting "enthusiastically," said Election Commission spokesman Bir Bahadur Rai.
About two dozen people were injured in several incidents over the last week when petrol bombs were thrown at passenger buses. One person later died of injuries in hospital, police said.
No party is expected to win a majority although the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) and the Nepali Congress will vie to be the largest party.
For most of its history, Nepal was a monarchy. The Maoists carried out a 10-year insurgency to abolish that system. The fighting claimed about 15,000 lives before the Maoists signed on to a peace accord in 2006.
Two years later, in 2008, Nepal held elections for the first time.
But since then, lawmakers have not been able to come up with a constitution for the country's 27 million people.
Preliminary results will be available Thursday. But final results will take at least a couple of weeks.