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'President asks Maoists to form Govt'

world Updated: Jul 30, 2008 12:15 IST

Nepal's president has invited former rebel Maoists to form the first government in the world's newest republic in a bid to end weeks of political deadlock, state media reported on Wednesday.

President Ram Baran Yadav gave the Maoists seven days to form the administration. Political wrangling has left Nepal without a formal government since last month, when it became a republic after abolishing its monarchy.

The president "has called on the party to forge a political consensus for the constitution of council of ministers and the appointment of the prime minister," said state-run Rising Nepal, quoting the president's office.

The Maoists emerged as the single largest party in a newly-elected, 601-seat constituent assembly that will produce the impoverished country's new constitution within two years.

But political wrangling has left Nepal with no formal government since May 28 after the constituent assembly abolished the nation's 240-year old Hindu monarchy and declared the country a federal democratic republic.

Nepal was plunged into political crisis last week when the Maoists declared they would not form the first post-royal government after the defeat of their candidate for president.

Yadav, who won the presidential contest, is from the Nepali Congress party, the main rival to the Maoists.

But the former rebels, who won more than a third of seats in the assembly, later said they were willing to lead a new administration as long as certain conditions were met.

Those included demands for a guarantee from the other three main rival political blocs that they would make no attempt to topple their government for at least two years.

They also want rival parties to agree to allow them to push through a "minimum programme" that includes revolutionary land reforms.

The Maoists, who waged a deadly revolt for 10 years, want to overturn what they call a "feudal," caste-ridden system.

The other parties had earlier expressed reluctance to accept the Maoist demands.

Maoist spokesman Krishna Bahadur Mahara told AFP consultations on Wednesday with the other parties were under way and "we hope to reach a consensus soon."

The ultra-leftists' continued involvement in mainstream politics is seen as crucial to the survival of the peace process which ended Nepal's civil war.