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Nepalese authorities confiscate Tibetan ballot boxes

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Nepal confiscates Tibet ballot boxes
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Tibetans were casting their votes for a government in exile
  • Tibet is an autonomous part of China
  • Nepal does not allow anti-Chinese activities on its soil

(CNN) -- Nepalese authorities in Kathmandu seized ballot boxes Sunday, disrupting elections for Tibetans who were voting to elect a new prime minister and government in exile, officials said Monday.

"The administration intervened in the so-called election because Nepal's foreign policy does not allow any activities against any friendly neighboring countries," Nepal's Home Ministry spokesman Jaya Mukunda Khanal told CNN.

Tibet is officially an autonomous part of China. Many Tibetan leaders advocate what they describe as a more genuine autonomy, while others seek independence. China rejects Tibetan claims of independence or greater autonomy and claims sovereignty over the area.

An estimated 20,000 Tibetan exiles live in Nepal. Nepal maintains that Tibet is part of China, and does not allow any anti-Chinese activities on its soil.

Khanal denied that there had been any instructions from the Chinese government to foil the election.

According to a Home Ministry statement, 18 ballot boxes were seized and investigations are being carried out.

No arrests were made, Kathmandu police Chief Ramesh Kharel told CNN.

About 30 Nepalese police conducted the confiscation operation at two Kathmandu polling sites, according to a statement on the website of the Central Tibet Administration.

But Thinley Gyatso, the regional Tibetan election commissioner in Nepal, said that authorities had given him permission to conduct the vote and that he is pressing the Nepalese government to return the ballot boxes, according to the Central Tibet Administration statement.

Journalist Manesh Shrestha contributed to this report.