Page last updated at 12:19 GMT, Thursday, 24 April 2008 13:19 UK

Maoists win Nepal assembly poll

Prachanda - 19/4/2008
Prachanda says he wants to be the president

Officials in Nepal say the former rebel Maoist party has won elections to the country's new assembly.

With all the votes counted, the Maoists have won almost 30%, with their nearest rivals taking 21%.

An official announcement on the final make-up of the assembly is expected shortly, with the Maoists' percentage projected to give them about 220 seats.

The Maoist leader Prachanda has said the first meeting of the assembly will abolish Nepal's 240-year-old monarchy.

"It is my desire to be the president," news agency Reuters quoted Prachanda as saying.

"But since there is no provision in the present constitution, we will have to reach some agreement with the other political parties," he said after meeting UN officials and foreign ambassadors in Kathmandu.

Monarchy's end

The elections were held on 10 April and as the results began coming in, it became clear that Maoists would emerge as the number one party.

Last Saturday, Prachanda claimed victory and said he would head a new government.

The two other big parties have been badly beaten but the Maoists want to include them in a coalition government.

Many of the traditional politicians of the defeated parties have so far been reluctant to enter into a coalition with the former rebels.

The Maoists have said that King Gyanendra would be accorded economic, social and cultural respect as a citizen of Nepal if he co-operated with the abolition of the monarchy, which is due soon.

Earlier, Prachanda said he wanted to meet the monarch to persuade him to step aside and move out of the royal palace rather than being forced to do so.

All of Nepal's main political parties had agreed before the election that King Gyanendra would be removed from his throne, ending centuries of monarchy in the Himalayan nation.

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