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Last Updated: Thursday, 31 May 2007, 15:29 GMT 16:29 UK
Nepal parties agree November poll
Maoist supporters in Nepal
The Maoists want the king to go before the vote is held
Elections to a constituent assembly to shape Nepal's future will take place in November, the ruling coalition says.

The seven parties and former Maoists had earlier agreed to hold the vote in June, but the election commission said it needed more time to organise it.

The assembly will decide the future of the monarchy and political system. The date of the vote has yet to be fixed.

The elections are part of a peace deal signed last year with the Maoists whose 10-year rebellion claimed 13,000 lives.

Date unclear

"We have agreed to hold the constituent assembly elections by the end of November and the eight party leaders have given the responsibility to the government to fix the date," Ramchandra Poudel, Nepal's minister for peace and reconstruction, told the AFP news agency.

Nepalese soldiers
The weapons of both sides are under UN supervision

He said the country's parliament, formed in January, would need to amend the interim constitution in the next two weeks.

"We have also agreed to amend the interim constitution and formulate the necessary election laws by mid-June," he said.

United Left Front party leader CP Mainali said that Prime Minister GP Koirala had proposed 26 November as election day, but that the date had not been approved by the leaders of the other parties.

The governing coalition of seven political parties and the former Maoist rebels has said the fate of Nepal's beleaguered monarch, King Gyanendra, will be decided in the new assembly's first meeting.

He was forced to relinquish most of his powers after huge protests in April last year ended his absolute rule.

The assembly's members are then supposed to reorder Nepal's highly centralised political structure.

The BBC's Mark Dummett in Kathmandu says they will consider a federal form of government, as well as ways to empower traditionally marginalised groups, such as low-caste Hindus, indigenous tribes and people living on the southern plains.

Maoist demands

The delay in holding the elections prompted complaints by the Maoists that King Gyanendra was manipulating the situation and trying to make a comeback.

The former rebels insist he should be removed and a republic declared before polls are held.

At least 13,000 people were killed in the fighting between security forces and Maoists, after the rebels began their insurgency in 1996.

As part of a landmark peace deal agreed late last year, the former rebels and the army have placed their weapons under United Nations supervision.


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