Page last updated at 16:54 GMT, Tuesday, 26 May 2009 17:54 UK

New Nepal PM appeals to Maoists

Madhav Kumar Nepal (centre) after addressing the nation on Tuesday
Mr Nepal says that he wants to unify the country

Nepal's new Prime Minister, Madhav Kumar Nepal, has appealed to former Maoist rebels to join his government and sign a new constitution.

In his first public speech since becoming PM last week, Mr Nepal said the support of all parties in drafting the document was needed.

It is Nepal's first constitution since the monarchy was abolished last year.

The former Maoist Prime Minister, Prachanda, resigned on 4 May following a dispute with the country's president.

'Challenges ahead'

"We have the responsibility to write a new constitution which people will not only feel to be good but also as their own," Mr Nepal said.

He called on all Nepal's parties to reach a consensus over the constitution to build "a peaceful, prosperous and stable Nepal".

Mr Nepal warned that "increasing hostilities" among different political parties were "likely to distract [them] from this mission".

He said that he was determined the document would be ready to be signed within the stipulated time of one year from now - "despite the challenges ahead". He said the government would "utilise all its resources to complete the task".

Mr Nepal is supported by 22 of the 24 parties in parliament.

But he does not have the backing of the Maoists - who are the largest party in parliament - and correspondents say it could be difficult for his administration to pass legislation.

The Maoists have rejected his appointment as prime minister and have said they will continue to protest against him and the decision of the president to rescind their decision to fire the army chief after their efforts to integrate former rebel fighters into the army were resisted.

The Maoists ended their decade-long armed struggle in Nepal three years ago when they decided to enter the peace process. They won general elections in 2008.

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