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Nepal ex-rebels’ ascension official

Times Staff Writer

Former Maoist insurgents took the lion’s share of seats in Nepal’s new constituent assembly, as final results released Friday confirmed their remarkable transformation from guerrilla force to probable governing party in the troubled Himalayan nation.

Nepal’s Election Commission said the Maoists had won 220 seats in the assembly, which will rewrite the constitution and form the basis of a new government. That is more than the combined number of seats won in the April 10 election by the two traditional ruling parties, the Nepali Congress, with 110, and the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist), or UML, with 103.

But the Maoists’ strong showing was not enough to secure an outright majority in the 601-member assembly, whose composition is determined by a formula that includes directly elected candidates and members chosen under a proportional representation system.

Maoist party leaders say they will seek to lead a coalition government that includes their rivals, while probably keeping key posts such as prime minister and foreign minister.

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The likely premier is Pushpa Kamal Dahal, better known by his nom de guerre, Prachanda. He led the Maoists through 10 years of rebellion, which cost more than 13,000 lives before the guerrillas laid down their arms in November 2006.

But it was unclear whether the Nepali Congress and UML parties would agree to join a coalition. Many of their stalwarts say the Maoists should be left to govern on their own, under pressure to deliver on the ambitious promises they made from the luxury of opposition.

Still, all three major parties are agreed on what is to be the assembly’s first order of business: abolishing the monarchy that has ruled Nepal for 239 years.

Getting rid of the world’s last Hindu king and forming a republic is the Maoists’ most cherished goal, which both the Nepali Congress and the UML have adopted in their own party platforms.

The Maoists campaigned on promises less radical than the communist ideology that originally inspired the rebels. They now welcome foreign investment and do not insist on the nationalization of assets.

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henry.chu@latimes.com


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