Nepal parliament puts off crisis vote to month-end

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KATHMANDU, Oct 16 (Reuters) Nepal's interim parliament put off a vote today on a demand by Maoist former rebels to abolish the monarchy immediately as negotiators struggled to avoid a confrontation, a senior minister said.

The vote was due tomorrow at the end of a three-day debate, but the house will now resume discussions after the Dasain festival holidays on Oct. 29, and vote subsequently, he said.

''Senior leaders from the ruling alliance and the Maoists have not succeeded in resolving the deadlock yet,'' Peace and Reconstruction Minister Ram Chandra Poudel said.

''We are still trying to find a common position and avoid a showdown in parliament.'' The Himalayan nation plunged into a fresh crisis last month when the Maoists quit the interim government and forced an indefinite postponement of constituent assembly elections that had been set for Nov. 22.

The elections are intended to help decide the fate of the monarchy and Nepal's future political shape. The postponement was a blow to a peace deal that ended a decade-long civil war in which more than 13,000 people died.

An emergency session of parliament called by the Maoists last week began debating their desire to abolish the monarchy before the constituent assembly meets, and also a demand for elections to be conducted under a full proportional representation system.

The ruling alliance, particularly the Nepali Congress party, the country's biggest, is opposed to the Maoist demand which, it says, goes back on an earlier agreement to allow the elected assembly to decide the monarchy's fate.

The former rebels have threatened to stop the election -- already postponed twice -- going ahead if the government does not give in, sparking fears of violent protests and clashes.

Political analysts and the mainstream parties say the Maoists are resorting to strong-arm tactics because they are new to electoral politics and seem afraid of facing voters.


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