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Nepal to Elect New Constitutional Body


Nepal's parliament unanimously approved a proposal Sunday by the country's new prime minister to hold elections for a special panel to draw up a new constitution.

No date was set for the elections.

Lawmakers also called on Maoist rebels to renounce violence and join the peace process. In a brief address before parliament, Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala urged the Maoists to come forward for peace talks.

The developments came shortly after Mr. Koirala took the oath of office at the royal palace.

Rebel leaders declared a unilateral cease-fire last Thursday after Mr. Koirala assured them parliament would begin the process of creating a new constitution and redefining the role of the country's monarchy.

Mr. Koirala is head of the Nepali Congress, one of the seven opposition parties that rallied hundreds of thousands of people onto the streets for 19 days this past month to protest absolute rule by King Gyanendra.

King Gyanendra took absolute power in February 2005, saying he had to act because elected officials were not able to control the rebels.

The rebels have been fighting for 10 years to abolish the constitutional monarchy and establish a communist state. At least 11,000 people have been killed.

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