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Nepal's Two Main Political Parties Reject King's Peace Overture

Two of the seven main political parties of Nepal have rejected the king's offer to restore a measure of democracy, saying it is not adequate and that the protests and strike will continue.

Leaders of the Nepali Congress party and Nepali Congress-Democratic party say the king has promised only parliamentary elections. But they want a constituent assembly to be elected so that a new constitution can be written.

They say most of the parties want a constitution that would make the king a ceremonial figurehead or eliminate the monarchy entirely.

But the main seven-party alliance, which now is also backed by the Maoist rebels, has yet to issue an official reaction.

Earlier Friday, addressing the nation on radio and television, King Gyanendra called on the alliance to name a prime minister as soon as possible. He vowed to bring back multi-party democracy nearly 15 months after he seized absolute control and triggered a bloody political crisis.

The king's vow came after tens of thousands of people had taken to the streets for 16 straight days to protest against him, despite a curfew and shoot-to-kill orders. Police killed 13 protesters and scores were wounded. Some 700 opposition activists are still in jail.

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