With nearly 90 percent of the ballots counted, the centrist Nepali Congress Party Thursday headed toward victory over its Communist rival in the Himalayan kingdom's first free elections in more than three decades.

The new administration will replace an interim coalition formed in last April after violent protests against the royal-dominated partyless system of government rocked the impoverished south Asian nation for 50 days.Results from 182 of the 205 contests for seats in the nation's first House of Representatives showed the Nepali Congress Party, the country's oldest and most prominent political grouping, had won 95, and the Communist Party of Nepal-United Marxist Leninist, had taken 65.