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Nepalese Party Quits Ruling Coalition


A political party in Nepal's coalition government has pulled out, following big losses in last week's elections for a special assembly that will rewrite the constitution.

Ministers from the Communist Party of Nepal-UML submitted their resignations Wednesday to Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala.

The Communist Party of Nepal-UML had been an early election favorite, but officials say former Maoist rebels - now known as the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) - have already won 116 of the 240 directly elected seats.

The Nepali Congress party is trailing with only 32 seats.

Meanwhile, Maoist leaders say they will make good on campaign promises to abolish the monarchy as soon as the new Constituent Assembly meets. Senior Maoist leader Baburam Bhattarai says King Gyanendra would then be like any other citizen.

The former rebels fought a decade-long insurgency before signing a peace deal in 2006. The rebellion killed at least 13,000 people.

The United States lists the Maoists as a terrorist group, but the State Department has urged calm and respect for the democratic process in Nepal in the coming weeks.

Nepal's new Constituent Assembly has 601 seats. Voters directly choose 240 of the members, while 335 seats are awarded by proportional representation. The remaining 26 seats are to be allocated to the interim government.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.