Maoists propose referendum on Nepali monarchy
Nepal's Maoists yesterday proposed a referendum on the monarchy as a way out of a deadlock in the country's peace process.
The call came days after crucial polls on the Himalayan nation's political future were cancelled because of a deepening rift between the former rebels and mainstream parties over how the fate of the king should be decided.
"Holding a referendum on the monarchy came up as an option to end the political deadlock," senior Maoist ideologue CP Gajurel told AFP after the ultra-leftists held high-level meetings over the weekend.
"We don't really know what other options there are," he added.
When they signed up for peace last November and ended their decade-long insurgency, the ultra-republican Maoists agreed for the question of the increasingly unpopular royals to be decided by an elected constituent assembly.
But the Maoists stormed out the government three weeks ago, demanding the immediate abolition of the monarchy and arguing that the polls -- which were scheduled for November 22 -- were stacked against them because of the electoral system.
After first agreeing to polls with a mixed first-past-the-post and proportional representation system, the ex-rebels are now demanding full proportional voting.
They have also warned that die-hard supporters of King Gyanendra in the army are plotting a coup.
The suggestion of a referendum is one of several proposals aimed at resolving the troubles in the peace process. The Maoists have also been lobbying for a vote on abolishing the monarchy in the interim parliament.