Nepal Maoists demand postponement of vote counting

KATHMANDU (AFP) - Nepal's Maoist party demanded a pause in vote counting early on Thursday, alleging conspiracy after tentative results showed them trailing in polls seen as key to cementing a post-war peace process.

"Due to the conspiracy and unusual activities during the constituent assembly elections, counting did not go ahead as per people's expectations and opinions, therefore, we demand that the vote counting be postponed," the Maoist party said in a statement.

The Maoists, led by Pushpa Kamal Dahal, known better as Prachanda, swept Nepal's first post-war polls in 2008, held two years after the former rebels ended a decade of fighting and entered politics.

They came to power promising social change, economic growth and lasting peace, but have since faced sharp criticism over their alleged corruption and taste for luxury.

Tentative results for directly elected seats in 150 out of 240 constituencies showed the Maoists trailing their opponents, with Prachanda currently coming in third place in his Kathmandu constituency.

More than 100 parties, including three major ones - the Unified Marxist-Leninist, the Nepali Congress and the Maoists - have fielded candidates for the constituent assembly, which will also serve as a parliament.