Nepal parties in crisis talks amid vote delay fears

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KATHMANDU, Oct 4 (Reuters) Nepal's prime minister held last ditch talks today with Maoist party chief Prachanda to persuade the former rebels to participate in November elections amid fears the vote could be delayed.

The Maoists quit the interim government last month demanding the monarchy's immediate abolition before the November. 22 elections for a constituent assembly, a key part of a peace deal last year aimed at ending a decade-long civil war.

The former rebels are also insisting on full proportional representation for the elections -- something Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala's government opposes as well.

The Maoists have vowed to disrupt the polls and launch street protests if the government does not meet their demands.

''There is a complete deadlock. I don't see any possibility for a consensus,'' Maoist spokesman Krishna Bahadur Mahara said before the meeting.

The outcome was due to be announced later today but many political analysts said a breakthrough seemed difficult.

''The election does not look possible in November as the Maoists are determined to boycott the election without the proportional representation system being accepted by the ruling alliance,'' said Yubaraj Ghimire, editor of Samay news magazine.

''That is something the Nepali Congress and the prime minister are clearly opposed to,'' he said, referring to the country's biggest political party headed by the premier.

Some analysts say the Maoists, who joined the political mainstream only last year, were afraid of losing the polls and believe the proportional representation system will give them more seats in the assembly.

The Maoists earlier agreed that 240 members of the 497-seat assembly would be elected directly by the people and an equal number through proportional representation. The cabinet would nominate the rest.

The stalemate must be resolved by the end of Thursday as the election commission has given political parties until tomorrow to submit the list of their candidates for the polls.

Media reports said some ambassadors including from the United States and India -- key donors to impoverished Nepal -- had asked the government not to delay the vote, the first national elections since 1999.

More than 13,000 people were killed in the Maoist conflict that ended last year when the guerrillas signed a peace deal with the government and deposited their arms in containers under UN watch.


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