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Maoists want Nepal to be declared republic

Maoist leader Prachanda has demanded that the declaration be made immediately.

world Updated: Apr 16, 2007 18:35 IST

Nepal's former communist rebels demanded on Monday that the nation be immediately declared a republic because it was unlikely that elections for a special assembly to determine the country's future political system would be held on schedule.

The leader of the former rebels, Prachanda, said he met Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala on Monday and "strongly demanded" that the declaration be made immediately.

"I proposed to the prime minister that if elections are not held on schedule we need to immediately declare a republic," Prachanda, who uses only one name, told reporters.

Prachanda said it could be done by a two-thirds vote in Parliament.

"The prime minister does not seem negative toward the proposal but appears a little confused. I will continue to attempt to persuade the prime minister and other coalition partners," Prachanda said.

Turning the country -- currently a constitutional monarchy -- into a republic has been a key goal of the former rebels. Under a peace treaty signed last year between the former rebels and the government, a Constituent Assembly is to be elected on June 20 to rewrite the constitution, determine the future of the monarchy, and decide Nepal's political system.

However, the Election Commission announced last Friday that it would be unable to hold the elections on schedule despite the deal with the former rebels, who joined the government earlier this month.

The rebels gave up their armed revolt last year and joined a peace process with the government.

They have locked up their weapons in seven U.N.-monitored camps and confined their fighters to 28 barracks.