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Political Agreement Reached to Abolish Nepal's Monarchy


The six parties in Nepal's interim government and the Maoists have reached agreement on abolishing the Himalayan nation's monarchy, clearing the way for twice-delayed national elections. VOA correspondent Steve Herman reports from our South Asia bureau in New Delhi.

Nepal will become a republic after elections next year if an agreement among the key political elements in the Himalayan state is implemented.

Nepal's lawmakers began discussion of an amendment to the interim constitution on Monday, in order to enact the agreement reached by the political parties Sunday.

The Maoists, who plunged the country into turmoil again when they quit the interim government three months ago, confirm they had reached a compromise with six other political parties.

A , C.P. Gajurel, says the Maoists decided to yield on their demand for a full proportional representation electoral system.

"Our party decided that we'll accept the decision in spite of our disagreement in the electoral process," said Gajurel. "We have agreed to go for the poll."

The Maoists, who waged a decade-long civil war against the monarchy, also backed away from their demand that Nepal immediately be declared a republic. Under the agreement, that is to happen after the election in 2008 to select a 601-seat national assembly.

Maoist Politburo member Gajurel says if Nepal's unpopular King Gyanendra, who has already been stripped of all but symbolic authority, tries to interfere with the process the interim parliament will have the power to immediately dethrone the monarch.

"If there is evidence that he's involved in disrupting the process the execution of a republic will be done before the election," he said.

The Maoists entered the interim government in April this year following a peace pact last year. But they quit just four months later when their demands for the immediate abolition of the monarchy and a proportional electoral system were not met.

Elections are now expected to take place in mid-April.

That would institute a fully democratic system for one of Asia's most destitute countries, following an era of feudal rule, which ended with the civil war and a brief grab for absolute power by the king.