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Talks Resume to Break Nepalese Political Impasse


Efforts are continuing in Nepal to break a political impasse that would bring the former rebel Maoists back into the interim government and allow November elections to be held on schedule. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman has the latest from our South Asia bureau in New Delhi.

Seven Nepalese political parties have met to try to break a deadlock that threatens upcoming national elections. The conference took place following an unsuccessful meeting earlier in the day between Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala and the Maoist leader, Prachanda.

The communists, who fought a decade-long battle against Nepal's monarchy, left the interim coalition government last week. They have repeatedly demanded that Nepal immediately be declared a republic.

Nepalese conflict analyst Bishnu Pathak, who has been playing a role as a mediator among concerned parties, predicts that peaceful demonstrations threatened by the Maoists could escalate into violent clashes.

"They would be launching this peoples' revolt," said Pathak. "And it is similar to what Lenin had launched long back in the USSR."

The meetings come a day after the country's largest political party and long-time backer of the monarchy, the Nepali Congress, approved a resolution urging an end to the two centuries of rule by the Shah dynasty, turning Nepal into a federal democratic republic.

The party says the move should be taken after the November 22 balloting, which is due to select an assembly that will draft a constitution and decide the fate of the monarchy.

But the Maoists are threatening to disrupt November elections if other political parties in the interim government do not bow to their demand for the immediate dethronement of the king.

In reality, King Gyanendra is already a mere figurehead, stripped of all real power, and most of the royal assets have been seized by the state.

The Maoists hold only one-fourth of the 330 seats in the interim parliament. But Bishnu Pathak says they may have enough strength through allied lawmakers to call a special session of the legislature, in an effort, for example, to push through a no-confidence motion against the prime minister.

The Maoists signed a peace treaty with the government last year, ending a decade-long insurgency that claimed 13,000 lives. The settlement followed mass protests that forced the king to end an unpopular dictatorship.

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