Nepal's Maoists Seek Parliamentary Support for Republican Bill

Nepal's former Maoist rebels are drafting a motion to abolish the monarchy and they plan to propose it in a special session of Parliament. Liam Cochrane reports from Kathmandu The move comes as political parties scramble for new directions after the indefinite postponement of the November elections.

Nepal's Maoist party says it will use Thursday's emergency meeting of parliament to put forward a bill to declare a republic and force lawmakers to reveal their positions on the controversial monarchy.

The Maoists' demand to abolish the monarchy before a scheduled election on November 22, rather than afterward as originally planned, caused a delay in the vote.

The Constituent Assembly election was a key part of a peace deal signed between the former rebels and mainstream political parties last year.

The assembly is to rewrite the constitution and decide on the fate of the monarchy. The vote was delayed last week, after the prime minister rejected demands from the Maoists.

Maoist lawmaker Khim Lal Devkota says his party now will put forward two bills - one proposing a change in the voting system and the other directing the government to abolish the monarchy.

"I think more than 90 percent of the members of parliament, 90-percent of the parties, are in favor of republican [system] that is why [when] we put forward the proposal of the republican [system] that will be passed by overwhelming majority," he said.

The Maoists need a two-thirds majority to pass the motions, so they will need the support of other parties.

Nepal's second largest political party, the United Marxist Leninist faction of the Communist Party, is also strongly republican and has called for a referendum on the monarchy.

So far, the ruling Nepali Congress party has hedged its bets on the issue of the king, but Maoist politician Devkota is optimistic it will back the republic bill.

"They are still hesitant to declare a republic from the Parliament up to now, but we are hopeful that in a special session they will change their mind in favor of the republic," he said.

The overthrow of the king was a goal of the decade-long Maoist insurgency, in which 13,000 people died before fighting ended last year.