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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 May 2007, 18:10 GMT 19:10 UK
Maoists issue Nepal king deadline
Prachanda
Prachanda said he was running out of patience
The leader of Nepal's former Maoist rebels has threatened mass protests unless parliament abolishes the monarchy by the middle of this month.

Prachanda told a May Day rally in the capital, Kathmandu, that demonstrations would be held across the country unless a republic was declared.

He gave a fortnight's deadline for his demands to be met.

The Maoists signed a landmark peace deal with the government in November, declaring an end to their insurgency.

'Willingness'

"If the government and political parties do not agree to declare a republic in two weeks then we will begin massive protests in parliament and on the streets," Prachanda told crowds in the capital.

"We still want unity with the seven political parties but it now depends on their willingness to accept a republic," he said.

Nepal's minister for peace and reconstruction, Ram Chandra Poudel, said issues would be resolved through discussion.

"The announcement of these protests is part of the Maoist agenda to achieve a republic," he told the AFP news agency.

"It will be difficult to achieve our goal [of holding elections] if parties lose their patience."

The former rebels have put their arms under lock and key and confined thousands of fighters to camps monitored by the United Nations.

But they say that they are also unhappy that election officials have asked for a delay in holding elections for a constituent assembly.

Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala insists that a decision on the monarchy's future should be left to the constituent assembly as agreed in the peace deal.

At least 13,000 people were killed in 10 years of civil war, after the Maoists launched their rebellion in western Nepal in 1996.


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