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Nepalese Leaders Set Date to Abolish Monarchy


Nepal's government has set a date for the abolition of the 240-year-old monarchy, as the king asks to retain a ceremonial role.

The country's new Maoist leaders are asking King Gyanendra to voluntarily step down before May 28. The newly elected 601-member Constituent Assembly is set to meet for the first time on that date to end the monarchy and establish Nepal as a republic.

Unofficial royal envoy and former minister, Kamal Thapa, Tuesday said the king should be allowed to retain a ceremonial role with cultural and religious rights. He adds the issue should not be decided until the assembly drafts a new constitution.

King Gyanendra made a rare public appearance Monday to take part in a Hindu ceremony.

The king became unpopular after seizing absolute power in 2005. He was forced to give up authoritarian rule after nationwide protests the following year.

Nepal's Maoists, winners of last month's elections in the kingdom, have vowed to do away with the monarchy and establish a federal republic. The former rebels agreed to a peace deal in 2006, after a decade-long civil war that claimed at least 13,000 lives.

The royal envoy says King Gyanendra has no plans to leave Nepal after the monarchy is abolished.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.

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