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Elections by April, says Nepal PM

Kathmandu, Oct. 21 (Reuters): Nepal’s interim Prime Minister said today he was committed to holding early national elections in the Himalayan kingdom gripped by political confusion since King Gyanendra dismissed an elected Premier.

“I am committed to hold elections within April-May. But there must be an understanding among all political parties for this,” Lokendra Bahadur Chand told a team of Nepali reporters in a meeting in Kathmandu.

King Gyanendra appointed Chand on October 11 after he dismissed former Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba who called for a postponement of a general election scheduled for November because of threats by Maoist rebels to disrupt the vote.

“The need of the day is to hold elections as early as possible,” state-run Rastriya Samachar Samiti news agency quoted Chand as saying.

Chand last week offered to talk to the guerrillas in a bid to end their revolt aimed at overthrowing the constitutional monarchy and establishing a one-party Communist rule.

More than 5,000 people have been killed since the insurgency began in 1996.

The violence has seriously hurt the impoverished country’s economy.

It was the first time that Chand had given an indication of an early vote. But no date has been fixed yet.

Chand said he would meet representatives of mainstream political parties before deciding on the date for elections.

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