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Nepal polls likely to be postponed

The polls are a crucial part of a peace process between the government and former Maoist rebels.

world Updated: Apr 13, 2007 14:05 IST

Elections in Nepal slated for June that are a crucial part of a peace process between the government and former Maoist rebels are likely to be postponed, a top election official said on Friday.

"Technically it will be very difficult to hold the constituent assembly elections by June," election commissioner Bhojraj Pokharel said.

As part of a landmark peace deal reached between Nepal's mainstream political parties and the former rebels last year, the Himalayan nation was due to go to the polls on June 20 to elect a body that will rewrite the constitution and address the future of the embattled monarchy.

"The date set by the government is just over 60 days away, and we have already told the government that we need at least 110 days to prepare for the election after necessary legislation has been passed," Pokharel said.

The former insurgents joined an interim government earlier this month -- taking five ministerial posts in the 22-member cabinet.

After fighting for 10 years to impose a communist republic on the Hindu-majority country in a war that left at least 13,000 people dead, the rebels signed up for peace in November 2006.

The Maoists, who still feature on Washington's list of foreign "terrorist" organisations, have registered their weapons and fighters with the United Nations as part of the peace deal.