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Nepal's Political Parties Agree on Late 2007 Elections

After more than a month of discussion, Nepal's political parties have agreed to hold elections in November or December for a constituent assembly that will rewrite the constitution and decide on the fate of the country's monarchy. Liam Cochrane reports from Kathmandu that the former Maoist rebels agreed to a postponed election date, but with some reservations.

The breakthrough came Thursday morning, with all eight major parties agreeing to hold elections for a constituent assembly between mid-November and mid-December.

Prachanda, the chairman of the Maoist party, was among those giving his approval. Elections were originally scheduled for June.

The promise of elections was a key part of the peace deal signed by the Maoists late last year. The exact date for the polls is to be chosen soon.

Thursday's agreement was accompanied by notes of dissent from five of the eight parties, including the former rebels.

Khim Lal Devkota is a member of parliament from the Maoist party. He tells VOA that despite Prachanda's agreement to the time period, the Maoists still prefer to see the monarchy abolished, and a republic declared, before the election takes place.

"Chairman Prachanda [has] written that election of the Constituent Assembly we cannot ensure without declaration of the republican [State]," Devkota says.

The agreement has allowed parliament, which has been stalled for many weeks, to resume its work. The House of Representatives met just hours after the agreement was announced.

Parliament needs to pass several election-related laws, and the cabinet must fix a date soon to give the Election Commission 110 days it says it needs to hold a nationwide vote.