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Page last updated at 09:51 GMT, Monday, 21 April 2008 10:51 UK

Nepal's king denies exile reports

King  Gyanendra
The king's days appear to be numbered

King Gyanendra of Nepal has dismissed reports that he will go into exile after the election success of former Maoist rebels.

A statement from the king's press office said foreign media reports - which have said he will leave Nepal - were "totally fabricated".

The Maoists say their main concern is that he steps down voluntarily, rather than being forced out of office.

The Maoists were the surprise winners of this month's elections.

The poll was for a constituent assembly that will decide Nepal's next constitution after a decade of civil war.

The Maoists have emerged clearly as the biggest party but look like they will fall short of gaining an overall majority.

'Unfounded'

Reports in Indian newspapers have been suggesting for some time that King Gyanendra would go into exile there.

Women vote in Nepal

But a statement issued by the royal palace in Kathmandu said the foreign press reporting was "totally fabricated and unfounded".

It gave no indication as to whether the king would step down.

The Maoists have made it clear that they will make the abolition of the monarchy one of the first priorities of the new constituent assembly.

"It does not matter whether he lives in India or Nepal," Maoist spokesman Krishna Bahadur Mahara told AFP news agency on Monday.

"We have already decided with the interim constitution what will be done. We are going to declare Nepal a republic, and he will have to accept it."

Last week Maoist leader Prachanda urged King Gyanendra to step down from office of his own accord. "In history, monarchs have been beheaded and also had to flee. Let that not be repeated in Nepal," Prachanda said on state-run television.

Another key demand of the Maoists is that former fighters be integrated into the army. They show no signs of wanting to compromise on the issue.

"We have already decided that the two armies will be integrated and a new security force will be created," Maoist deputy leader Baburam Bhattarai told Reuters news agency. "A new political leadership has come. The army should follow the political leadership."

The army says that new soldiers should only be recruited by normal methods. "The army is an apolitical organisation," an army spokesman said.

'Leave voluntarily'

The Maoists declared an end to 10 years of insurgency in 2006. Both the rebels and the military were regularly accused of gross human rights violations during the war.

Maoist leader Prachanda
Prachanda warned that other monarchs have been beheaded

Latest results from the 10 April election give the Maoists 120 of the 240 seats chosen by the first-past-the-post system. One seat has still not been declared.

A further 335 seats are allocated by proportional representation. The Maoists now have about 30% of votes counted for those seats.

Another 26 seats will be allocated by the next government.

The US still officially classifies the Maoists as terrorists. But Washington has congratulated the Nepalese people for holding elections which it says were mostly peaceful.

It said that it looked forward to an assembly that reflected the people's will.




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