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Maoists Quit Nepal's Interim Government

Nepal's Maoists have made good on their threat to quit the interim government. VOA's Steve Herman reports from our South Asia bureau in New Delhi that the move is likely to cause political chaos and jeopardize elections planned this year.

Nepal's Maoists have walked out of the coalition government and vowed to resume street protests to demand the monarchy be abolished and the country declared a republic.

The Maoists fought a decade-long civil war against the monarchy before making peace, entering the government this year, and agreeing to elections to decide the fate of the unpopular king, Gyanendra.

While the former rebels say they will not return to the jungle and wage war, others in Nepal are concerned their campaign against the monarchy will not be peaceful.

Human-rights activist Satya Narayan Shah is among those worried about a return to violence.

"I think the Maoists, after pulling out from the government, will create some disturbances," said Shah. "There may be some sort of violence, because their workers believe in martial power."

Shah says the Maoists should keep their word to let a constituent assembly decide the fate of the King, who has already been stripped of most of his power and royal assets.

Nationwide elections are scheduled for November 22 to select that assembly. Nepal is currently governed by an eight-party, interim coalition, which had included the Maoists.

Maoist supporters streamed into central Kathmandu chanting anti-monarchy slogans, bringing large parts of the Nepalese capital to a standstill.

Before pulling out of the government, Maoist leader Prachanda met with Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala and the heads of the other parties in the coalition government. Officials say the talks were unable to reach a compromise.

The Maoists waged a 10-year rebellion beginning in 1996. The conflict killed an estimated 13,000 people and crippled the economy of Nepal, one of the poorest countries in the world.