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Last Updated: Friday, 5 October 2007, 11:17 GMT 12:17 UK
Nepal deadlock delays elections
Maoist rally in Nepal

Elections for a constituent assembly in Nepal have been postponed after ruling parties and former Maoist rebels failed to break their political deadlock.

No new date was set for the vote, which was to have been held on 22 November.

The coalition government would not agree to Maoist demands, including the immediate abolition of the monarchy, and procedural changes to voting.

The elections are a key element of a peace deal signed in 2006 that ended 10 years of Maoist insurgency.

'Trying'

"The leaders have decided to postpone the voting, but a new date hasn't been fixed," Prakash Sharan Mahat, a senior leader of the country's largest party the Nepali Congress, told The Associated Press news agency.

We were compelled to change the election date because of the Maoists, who let us down
Ram Chandra Poudel,
Minister for peace

A spokesman for the Maoists, Krishna Bahadur Mahara, told reporters that the parties were trying to find solutions.

"We have all decided to postpone the election with the agreement that we will all try to resolve the political deadlocks through the special session of parliament that we have sought."

The Maoists have demanded the implementation of a proportional representation system of voting on polling day.

Observers say this is because they are not expected to do well in direct elections and would benefit from the system.

The former rebels complain the system of voting in its current form is stacked against them, and that they have not been treated as equal partners since the peace deal was signed in November 2006.

They have threatened to launch mass protests if their demands are not met.

Peace pledge

One of the first tasks the constituent assembly has been set is to decide the fate of the monarchy.

But the former rebels now demand a republic be announced before elections are held.

They pulled out of the governing coalition over the issue in mid-September.

Last week, the Nepali Congress announced its support for a republic - but only once elections had been held.

The Maoists have stressed, meanwhile, that they are not withdrawing their commitment to the peace process.

Observers say they have limited options. One possible way out for them may be a coalition with other left-wing parties.



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