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UN Secretary-General Welcomes Political Agreement in Nepal, Offers Assistance

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says he and the U.N. Mission in Nepal are ready to provide any help necessary ahead of Nepal's Constituent Assembly election next year.

In a statement issued Wednesday by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban welcomed the recent decision by Nepal's former communist rebels to rejoin the interim government.

He also said he is pleased to learn that politicians have reached agreement on key issues of the nation's peace process, which paves the way for a new Constituent Assembly to be elected by mid-April.

The assembly's first move will likely be to declare Nepal a republic, abolishing the centuries-old monarchy.

The Maoists ended the political stalemate on Sunday, signing a 23-point agreement with the country's six other political parties.

The Maoists had quit the government in September, after demanding election reform and an immediate end to the monarchy.

Political leaders also agreed to changes in the election process.

Under the plan, voters will elect 240 assembly members directly and 335 other candidates based on proportional representation, with parties receiving seats based in proportion to the number of votes they win.

Some 13,000 Nepalese died during the country's 10-year civil war. The settlement between Maoist rebels and the government followed mass protests that forced Nepal's King Gyanendra to end an unpopular dictatorship.