A landmark peace deal between Nepal's government and Maoist rebels has cleared a path for the rebels to join mainstream politics.
After two days of intense negotiations, the two sides signed an agreement early Wednesday that will see the Maoists join an interim parliament in less than three weeks, and a transitional government by the beginning of December.
The rebels will have 73 seats in the new parliament, just two less than the country's biggest party, the Nepali Congress.
Both sides are optimistic the deal will end a decade-long rebellion that has killed some than 13,000 people.
The pact was sealed after the rebels agreed to place their 35,000 fighters in temporary camps, and lock up their weapons at a separate location under United Nations supervision. An equal number of government weapons will be locked away.
The Maoists have been demanding an end to the monarchy. But they have agreed to allow a constituent assembly decide the institution's fate. The assembly will be elected next year and will also shape a new constitution.
Since the Maoist rebellion erupted in 1996, the rebels have gained control of much of the countryside. The parallel governments they run there will be dissolved once they join the interim parliament.